This post does not concern sheep. Or pickles.
I got the call at 7:15 this morning that our chicks were at the post office. The post office? Yes- Big hatcheries in the midwest contract with small breeders to buy fertile eggs. The hatcheries coordinate orders, brood and hatch the eggs, and drop the chicks in the mail. The chicks survive in the mail because they still have energy from the egg yolk feeding them for the first 48-60 hours of life. When they arrive, they are hungry, thirsty and ready to go as ours were when I opened the box. I picked up each one, dipped her little beak in the waterer and set her down in the shavings under the heat lamp.
Baby chicks look like self-propelled cotton balls. They’re not “cuddly” but they are easy to pick up and hold. In your hand, they feel weightless and their little feet tickle your palm. They will grow at an alarming rate and will soon live in their brand new coop. Most of these chickens are layers for us and for som neighbors. A few are male- the lucky one will get to be our rooster and the unlucky ones will get to be supper.
We are raising three breeds of chicken this year: New Hampshire hens, for our neighbors at Fat Toad Farm, who are copper-penny red, friendly, and great layers
We also have Dark Brahma hens. While they are decent layers, we’re really enamored with the Dark Brahma’s feathery feet and beautiful feathers. For the economics of having some chickens in our back yard, we don’t mind being short an egg here or there for awesome fuzzy pantaloons like these!
Finally, we’ve also purchased some Welsummer hens. These girls lay cool chocolate-colored eggs and are productive for many years.