Screen Shot

The HenCam has become a full-time job, and so I’ve added advertisements to earn some income and to try and justify the time and expense that I put into this website. I have no control over what appears, those ads are determined by Google. A reader was browsing my blog pages, and saw the perfect juxtaposition of my flock and an ad. She saved this screen shot for me.

screen shot


Beryl looks worried about that advertisement. Do you think that she’s done something that I don’t know about?

Setting Up The Brooder

The needs of chicks are fairly simple. They need to stay warm. They need food and water. They need to be able to scratch their bedding. They need enough space so that they aren’t stressed. They need interesting things to do so that pecking each other doesn’t become a pastime.

I’m setting a brooder up in the storage area of my Little Barn. A hanging heat lamp will provide warmth, and cardboard walls will keep it draft-free. Because chicks have a crowd mentality, and because even those fluffy sweet-looking babies peck and chase, the corners are blocked off so that no one gets trapped and pounded on or smothered.


As you can see, this is inexpensive, temporary housing. These are old shipping boxes that we had stored away. We use gaffer’s tape, not duct tape, because it doesn’t leave a sticky residue. But, duct tape is fine. If you don’t have a concrete floor to tape it to, then use an appliance box (appliance stores are happy to give them away) as I did for the Gems. I’ll be putting pine shavings down for bedding.

I know that the Little Barn has some lingering coccidia (a protozoan parasite that can kill chicks.) I know this because periodically I have fecal samples looked at by a vet tech. Most yards that have housed chickens have coccidia in the soil. I’ve ordered vaccinated chicks, but it takes awhile for their immunity to kick in. So, I don’t want them on dirt. Clean concrete is a good floor, as is  a cardboard box. You don’t want the place to be pristine. You want them to develop immunity to germs and bugs, but exposure to those things should be in small increments.

The heat lamp is on a cord that can be raised as the chicks get older. Notice that the brooder is big enough that the chicks can get away from the heat if they want to. Chicks can get overheated, and that can kill them. This is a basic heat lamp. One of these days I’ll try the new radiant brooder lamps. But this one works, and so I haven’t felt the need to spend the money.

heat lamp

I like hanging feeders, which deters the chicks from sitting in the feed and also keeps it clean of shavings. The waterers are made for tiny chicks. They’re inexpensive and worth getting for peace of mind. You can use chicken waterers, but put rocks in so that the water isn’t so wide and deep that the babies can drown. Because the waterers don’t hang, I put them up on blocks to keep them clean and out of the shavings.


Lastly, I’ve been reading about how essential it is for chicks to eat grit right away. Since mine won’t be able to get out for several weeks and have access to the bits of granite in this New England soil, I’m going to give them grit in this dispenser.


I’m off to buy chick feed. I tried last week but it was out of stock. Those chicks are going to be seriously hungry when they arrive and they’ll need to eat immediately. It’s essential that everything is set-up before they get here. I have a few other last minute preparations (which I’ll share in another post) and then you’ll see them on the ChickCam!

Russian Easter Toy

It might snow today. Or rain. Or freezing rain. Which isn’t as bad as what blew down on the midwest overnight. Whatever the weather, it’s the sort of day that could use a cheerful pick-me-up. Silly windup toys always make me smile. Here’s one from my collection. It’s Russian.



hen toy

I think it resembles Jasper.

toy front


What’s cheering you up today?


Where To Put The Brooder

Fluffy little baby chicks need to be kept warm in a safe container. This housing is called a brooder. The first week of their life that brooder needs to be at about 95 degrees F. Each week thereafter, as the chicks grow, the temperature is dropped by 5 degrees. Many people, especially those who get only a handful of chicks, like the idea of keeping the chicks in the kitchen where they can keep an eye on them, and get the full dose of their adorableness. For several reasons this is a bad idea.

First of all, although those chicks start out tiny they grow very fast and are soon too big for a tidy plastic box on a table. Like adult chickens, chicks need plenty of space or you’ll have health and behavior issues. Secondly, chicks poop. A lot. It stinks. They also scratch the ground, just like adult chickens. The scratching shreds the manure into a fine dust. Also the chicks lose their down, quills erupt and those feathers unfurl, which sheds dander. The fine particles of manure and dander will become airborne and coat your tables, your chairs, your counters and your food. At the least it will smell and be nigh on impossible to clean up. At the worst it will contain salmonella and pose a health risk.

And that is why I put the brooder in the coop. If you don’t have an outbuilding with electricity, put the chicks in your garage. Lacking that, put them in the basement (as long as it’s not damp.)

I had intended to move the old hens in with the Gems and turn the LIttle Barn into a brooder. That was when I’d thought that Buffy and Sioxsie would no longer be part of the flock. But, they’ve survived the winter. There’s no way that I can integrate them in with the Gems. So I will use plan B.

I’m still going to put the chicks into the Little Barn. There’s enough room in the storage side for the brooder.

open doorI

It needed to be cleared out,

storage side

which Steve did. He also vacuumed. Dust harbors germs, so giving the coop a thorough cleaning before the chicks comes is a prudent thing to do.

cleaned up

When the chicks arrive, the InsideCam (seen here where it is currently installed above the waterer) will be moved into the brooder and will become ChickCam.


I’m often asked how the cams work. You need a bit of wiring in the barn.

fuse box

It’s complicated. Steve explains it in this FAQ.

In my next post, I’ll show you how to build a brooder box. That’s easy.

Tulips and Snow

I keep a garden diary. I mark the date of first frost. I keep track of when the first green crocus leaves push out of the ground. In years past, that happened today. But, right now there’s an icy 5-inch crust of snow in my front yard. Somewhere, deep in the earth, are plants waiting for their moment. When it does come, springtime is going to be intense, crowded and colorful.

Steve bought me tulips. A consolation prize for an impatient gardener. They’re glowing orange in a vase on my desk. The white snow in the background sets them off nicely, don’t you think?

tulips in window