New Year/New Chicks

My first fully-formed thought on this first day of 2011, while still in bed and still with my eyes closed, was, “I have to place my chick order.” Don’t you agree that that’s a good first thought of the New Year?

I live in a small town. The tellers at the post office know me well. Eight years after moving two miles down the road, from one house to another, they still forward the old mail. One mailman used to buy eggs from me. I’d leave them in the mailbox on top of a freezer pack. But, one thing I’ve never done is to get my chicks through the post office. Others in town have had that fun. This year, it’s my turn, and I can’t wait for the post office to call and tell me to hurry down for the peeping box.

Most large hatcheries have a minimum order of 25. Chicks don’t need to eat or drink for two days after hatching (reabsorbing the yolk takes care of those needs) but they do have to stay warm. Hatcheries have figured out that 25 crowded into a box is a healthy number. In recent years, by using heat packs, some hatcheries are now able to ship as few as three chicks. It’s a service that’s worth the expense if you aren’t able to take on two dozen fluff balls. In the past I’ve added to my flock in small increments (partly by buying chicks from my neighbors who placed the large orders.) But, in the last year, three of my chickens have died, and I have four more that are elderly and not likely to last the winter. The big barn can accommodate at least ten additional hens. I’ve been lusting after grey birds, I miss blue eggs, and I’ve wanted the deep-brown Maran eggs for no other reason than they are so pretty. It’s time to place a large order.

There are many excellent small hatcheries that sell various breeds, but to get the wide variety that I want, I need to go to a larger concern. I want all of the chicks from one place, so that they’re all the same age, have been exposed to the same germs, are on the same vaccine schedule (they’ll be vaccinated for Marek’s) and from a breeding flock that is regularly tested for diseases. I’ve selected the Meyer Hatchery because they have blue Orpingtons and Marans, as well as Speckled Sussex and classic New Hampshire Reds.

A friend in town is tacking his wish list of breeds to my order, so I’ll be getting about three dozen chicks. He’s the type of guy who buys a whole pig from a local farmer because he cares about what he eats. Two years ago he built a coop and got hens for the eggs. So, you’d think he’d order all hybrids. They’re the ones that lay everyday and all through winter. But, he’s fond of Dorkings, and, after looking through the Meyer catalog is also getting a few other fancy breeds, “just because.” That’s what happens when you get chickens.

The chicks will arrive late in March. I’ll be setting a brooder up in the big barn. I’m hoping that Lulu will go broody when the chicks come so I can tuck some under her. Steve is trying to figure out how to have a ChickCam. It’s going to be busy here this spring!

Happy New Year!


  1. so jealous *drooling* in my dreams, i want white-faced black spanish becuase *Years* ago my father had one as a pet when he was a child. it was a rooster & it would swing with him on the tree swing.

  2. I’m quite excited! That’s great news! Especially for me, considering the mention of a ChickCam. Now, with chicks, isn’t there a chance you’ll be getting some roosters? And what are your plans for the little guys that you don’t have the space for?

  3. I hope the chick cam goes well! My 28-year-old daughter (who, with her husband, is expecting their 1st child in late March)had an experience hatching eggs in school in 6th grade. Thankfully, a local farm took the hatchlings to raise. Unfortunately, that property (house, barns, etc) were razed when a medical mfg. firm moved back to town several years ago. This may be the only chance for local kids to observe the hatching process now (this was once a rural area—wish it still was!). With “baby girl” due 3/24, it’ll be exciting to observe the birthing process (the chicks, not my granddaughter, of course!) My retirement dream is to be able to do what you do…write and raise chickens and goats…, etc.! Good luck! I’ll check back often!

  4. YES ! Nothing more exciting than a chick cam. Can’t wait ! Happy Easter !

  5. exciting! i’m looking forward to living out my chicky dreams vicariously by reading your blog and watching the webcams.

  6. How eg-citing! ;-)
    I sometimes think about getting some other breeds of chickens ~ just for the different colored eggs ~ but I do SO love my Blue-laced-red Wyandottes and Mille Fleur and Calico Cochins! They give me plenty of color variety in the chickens, anyway.

    Have a Great 2011!

  7. How eg-citing! ;-)
    I sometimes think about getting some other breeds of chickens ~ just for the different colored eggs ~ but I do SO love my Blue-laced-red Wyandottes and Mille Fleur and Calico Cochins! They give me plenty of color variety in the chickens, anyway.

    Have a Great 2011!

  8. Too fun… Brie and I did the same thing. Pre-ordered six babies, to arrive in late April, post Spring Break. Though, funny thing, now my husband has an opinion on the breeds we selected, and now he wants to select a breed of his own! Think I’ll blog about it… Good luck with the Chick Cam. :)

  9. You do realise how addictive chicks are? I never tire of hatching them -always thought I was a puppies and kittens sort of person but chicks beat them all, as does the look on the broody’s face when the first one hatches.
    Like Nancy, I love blue-laced Dottes, and now that Big Girl is almost six years old, I really badly want some more! But I am in the hands (claws) of Gladys and Babbs, Team Broody, as to when the time is right!

  10. Very exciting! My fluffy butts aren’t even a year old yet. I highly recommend the Welsummers, they have beautiful dark, speckled eggs and lay consistently (a farmer I know has Marans and was disappointed with the laying frequency). Plus they are beautiful and their personalities are a riot.
    Have FUN! We love chick babies :)

  11. I love your black polish, but I take it that no more of the ditzy kind will be added this year. Have any of the Polish ever gone broody ? I know I have watched on youtube one Polish who went broody and raised some adopted chicks to adulthood. Unfortunately only two out of the six made it, but even with them being over three months old she is still quite attached to them. Oh, well she tried her best.
    I would love to have six or eight of the black and blue Polish just in the yard, but my city unfortunately does not allow chickens.
    Ditzy or not they are very beautiful.

  12. I can spend hours looking at chicks in the catalogs. Have fun.
    A story on ordering chicks. Years ago I found a hatchery (to remain nameless) that had a minimum order of 15. So I jumped in, order two of this, one of that etc. So the day came, the post office called, jumped in the car, picked them up and raced home. Set the box on my kitchen table took the lid off and much to my SURPRISE there were 26 little peeps staring back. I called the hatchery and asked why they sent me 26 chicks, they said oh those are “popcorn chicks” we have to add those to keep the chicks you want warm, they are male leghorns and most people just dispatch once they recieve them. They also told me that in the catalog at the bottom of the ordering page it explains that they do this, well another lesson in always read the fine print. Well I was taught waste not want not. So I thought ok, I’ll raise them and make chicken salad, chicken pot etc out of them. Well I never spend so much time and effort on something with so little results. There is very little meat on them.

    Terry, if Lulu is broody slip them under her at night and it probably is only a good idea if she’s been broody for a couple weeks. That’s my experiance.

    • Hey Ken. My eyes perked up when I thought that in some post you said you lived around St. Louis. I used to live around there (Glendale by Kirkwood) and was talking to my cousin who lives in Clayton this weekend. Did you and the chickens do ok with the storms?

  13. Hi Terry! How exciting! Can’t wait to see the new babies. I am also glad you are on the mend and able to visit your barn! Happy New Year to you!

  14. Hi Terry,

    What good news – I shall look forward to seeing the new chicks! Wishing you all the best for 2011.

  15. Sara, yes. Just lost some tree limbs. The tornado did a number on Sunset Hills though. I live in unicorporated St Louis County in the Wildwood area.

  16. Hey terry, got my 3 Hamburg hens from Meyers a year ago….have been very pleased..they sent no popcorn chicks… did not know hatcheries did that…enjoy!!

  17. guess the animal bios page is going to get much longer?

  18. I love your site and can’t wait to see the chick cam!!! Oh, and Happy New year!!!!