I fear I have a black thumb this year when it comes to gardening, aside from growing tomatoes, strawberries and rhubarb. I can't even grow zucchini (everyone can grow zucchini.) But I've managed to keep an average of three cats alive and well for the most part (for the most part...) for the last five years, so I figured I'd be pretty capable of caring for some relatively low maintenance chickens (according to what I'd heard.) I decided to give it a go. It's been almost 4 weeks since we bought two Black Australorps and a New Hampshire Red from Gardensphere, our favorite garden center in Tacoma, and so far it's gone pretty well!
This is Peepers. She loves long walks on the beach and sunsets.
This is Phoebe. She loves to make as much noise as possible every time you go to pick her up (she must really like being held, I'm guessing...)
This is "Mother" Margaret, the sweetest and gentlest chick.
She's nicknamed "Mother" because we needed a "Mother Clucker." Heheh.
Here's what I've learned in the past few weeks about our freshly hatched chicks:
Chickens may not be the smartest animals on the planet, but they are very sweet and actually make pretty good pets. They have attached themselves to my husband (I took the attitude of treating them more like farm animals than pets. I think they know...) and they get very excited when he comes around, peeping and stretching their necks and eagerly jumping at him to perch on his arms. My 8 and 6 year old are great helpers and can't get enough of their chickies. The chickens snuggle right up to the girls, and really like to be held. My kids are all too happy to help with chores too when it comes to the Cluckers!
Chicks make a TON of noise. Constant peeping. When they are agitated and stressed (too much/not enough handling,) they peep even more. I was so worried about them getting too cold that I overheated them at first and couldn't figure out why they were so squaky. We sorted it out and moved the heat lamp a little farther away and they seemed to maintain a comfortable level of peeping for
the rest of the night EVER.
They are messy and stinky. I know I am particularly sensitive to chicken mess/smell, but I'm telling you, they walk around and poop on everything, getting it all over themselves and your hands when you pick them up. They just LOVE to poop on people too. I think that's their favorite past time. And the food gets everywhere. I think their other favorite past time is littering the box as quickly as possible with as much food as they can. I imagine they love to food-fight, just peeping with delight, while we sleep. They are voracious eaters and I cannot believe how much feed they consume. Between the eating and the food-fighting, very little of it actually stays in the feeder that I'm refilling every day. As you can imagine, the water is thusly changed at least twice a day due to the excessive pooping and food mess. I change their newspaper every night.
|Inside the bin - a large plastic storage tub converted into baby chick housing|
But the best part is - it's not that much work. That's about the extent of the work involved with chick raising - food, water, clean paper, warmth, handling. And they will like you. Pretty easy. WAY easier than a puppy. Eventually you get gorgeous, delicious, nutritious eggs out of the deal! Worth it, I say!