Naming the Chicks

I usually bestow old-fashioned names on my hens, like Agnes and Prudence. There have been notable exceptions (Twinkydink, Snowball and Siouxsie come to mind) but as a rule I think the frilly names fit the girls (rather like hats are appropriate at a royal wedding!)

But, since I have a whole batch of chicks, I thought I’d do something different this time. I thought I’d name them after gemstones. Pearl, Ruby, Jet, Sapphire, Opal. Steve has a degree in geology so he likes this idea a lot.

Then my younger son suggested I name that after ice cream flavors. Peppermint, Pistachio, Blackberry Chip, Cherry, Vanilla.

Then my older son suggested that I name them after Transformers. He said I’d get more traffic to my site.

Or, he said, I could name them after the female characters in Harry Potter. I like the idea of a chicken named Hermione but do I want one named Moaning Myrtle?

What do you think?

What Breeds?

Most hatcheries require a minimum of 25 chicks for an order. I wanted chicks, but not that many. Many of my old hens have stopped laying and I wanted young birds to fill the nesting boxes with eggs. My friend Ken, who lives a mile up the road, also wanted to replenish a flock that saw serious losses due to hawk predation (a problem now mostly solved with netting and restricted free-ranging.) So, we decided to share an order. Each of us have our favorite breeds, and we also wanted to try new ones. He wanted Dominiques. I don’t like rose combs. I wanted Delawares, he wanted Buff Chanteclers. We both wanted Speckled Sussex and Rhode Island Reds.

The box of twenty-five chicks arrived yesterday. Two little yellow chicks were dead on the bottom of the box. My guess is that the box tipped while in transit, the chicks piled up, and the two died. Sad, but it happens.

I had the pleasure of all 24 chicks (there was an un-asked for extra, and it better not be a roo!) for most of the day. Ken arrived after work. He still had on a white shirt and nice shoes. We don’t see clothes like that much around here. But, he’s a dirt under the fingers sort of guy and squatted next to the brooder without even a glance at the dust. This is why we’re friends.

It was time to sort the chicks. It was obvious which were the Speckled Sussex. They look like chipmunks. Ken was to have 3, I’d keep 2.

Look at those adorable fluffy butts. But, wait, what about that darker one? The sixth stripey chick with the solid brown head? What the heck is that? We decided to ignore it and divvy up the yellow chicks. According to the photos in the on-line catalog, my Delaware chicks were supposed to be yellow with faint dark markings on the head. There were a slew of peeping yellow chicks. Some had paler yellow heads. None had spots. Okay. So. Maybe it’d be easier to sort out the Buff Orpingtons from the Buff Chanteclers. Nope. All yellow.

Chicks should come in boxes like chocolates, kept separate in little dividers, with a diagram to the varieties.

We divided up the order as best we could. We’ll let the chicks grow for three weeks, at which time we should know how badly we messed up. We might trade them off again. Or not. If he has all the Rhode Island Reds that’s fine with me. Ken is adamant that he doesn’t want Buff Orpingtons. I’ll take those. But, if there’s a rooster, he’s keeping it!

(The breeds that I hope I have in my brooder are: 2 Delawares, 2 Welsummers, 2 NH Reds, 1 Rhode Island Red, 2 Buff Orpingtons and 2 Speckled Sussex.)

New Chicks

The phone rang at 6 am. The post office had a peeping package.

The post office isn’t even open at this hour.

But this is a small town and when I knocked on the door, I was greeted with a smiling face and handed a small box.

“Glad you’re here. It’s starting to smell.”

The chicks broke out of their shells Monday at Meyer Hatchery in Ohio. They can survive for two days, living off the yolk, but I was glad to get them home.

They need warmth, and so are shipped crowded 25 in a small box, their body heat doing the job. Unfortunately, two little cream-colored chicks were dead on the bottom of the box. The rest of the chicks were healthy and noisy. I dipped each bird’s beak into the water fountain to get their first drink. One sip and they knew what to do. They also knew what to do with the chick feed.

In the next four months, each chick will eat 10 pounds of chick feed. Which is an amazing number when you realize that right now they weigh about an ounce each.

I’m not keeping all 23 chicks. Ten are going to a neighbor. He already has a backyard flock, but a hawk got a number of his birds, so he’s replenishing his stock. Besides, he couldn’t resist trying out a few new breeds. He ordered Buff Chanteclers and Barnevelders, along with the familiar, like the Speckled Sussex.

Speaking of the Speckled Sussex, it’s obvious which ones they are – they’re striped like chipmunks. But, even if all the chicks had the same markings, I’d know. The Sussex are running roughshod over the other birds. Barging this way and that. Little Lulus.

Do let your friends know about the brooder cam. This oh too ridiculously cute stage won’t last long. Soon the chicks will lose their fluff and feather out.

More later, but right now I have to go to the barn. Just because.


They’re here! Click here to see the chicks!

The post office called at six am.

I’ll post more after I’ve had my coffee…. and can pull myself away from watching and listening to them. Chirp! Chirp!

Birthday Boys

It’s Pip and Caper’s Birthday! They’re two!

Three years ago I fell in love with the Nigerian Dwarf Goats at the Fryeburg Fair in Maine. Fairs will get you into trouble like that. I did an internet search, and there was something about the Village Haven Farm that I liked. I liked the small size, the fact that the babies were left on their mamas, but got lots of human cuddles. I liked the looks of the goats. I didn’t really know anything about goats, but if you’re in and out of barns as much as I am, you know when something is right. I put a deposit down on two, yet to be born, goats.

And this is what I got.

These are my first goats, so I don’t have any other goats to compare them to. That said, these are the absolute best goats in the entire world.

I have worked with many and varied animals, but I must say that goats are unique unto themselves. Yes, they fit in the four-legged furry farm animal category. But they are nothing like horses. Or donkeys. Or mules. Or cows. Or sheep.

Goats have goat obstinacy and goat humor. Goat appetites and goat itches.

Pip and Caper are sweet and cheerful. Friendly and curious. And very helpful. Especially with tools.

Happy Birthday, Boys!