Preparing for the Chicks

In just a few weeks there will be fifteen little fluff ball chicks in my barn. I’ve a lot to do before they come. I’m doing a thorough cleaning before they arrive. All living organisms have colonies of microbes living within them. The chicks will be going from the comparatively sterile environment of the hatchery to my property, which has had chickens on it for eight years, and wild birds and animals on it forever. It’s not a bad thing for the chicks to be exposed to the real world, but it will take awhile for their immune systems to gear up. They’ll be vaccinated for Marek’s disease, but there are many other hazards out there. Ideally, the chicks will make use of the good germs and develop immunity to the bad. This works if the bacterial load isn’t overwhelming. Since chicken diseases lurk in dust, I have used the shop vac and cleaned up the big barn. If you have the room, it’s best to range your chickens outside on ground that has never seen poultry. Of course, that’s not always possible. I have a pen of packed dirt. So, this weekend, during one of the brief moments of good weather, I took a pitchfork and turned the dirt over.

Sunlight is a potent disinfectant. Now, if only the weather would cooperate.

It was hard work. Lily did not help. She couldn’t resist the brief warm spell’s call to nap.

The goats said that despite all of the cold and rain, that it is springtime, obviously, because they are shedding. They bleated and me-ehhed and asked for a grooming, but I was too busy. So, Pip made use of an old horse brush that I attached to a post. Caper made do with a shovel. It doesn’t take much to make a goat happy.

Next up is to construct the brooder.


  1. Your blog is great fun. We, who don’t have chickens, are all anticipating your new arrivals. It’s virtual chicks for us!

    • It depends on the weather. The first week in the brooder the chicks are kept at 95º F. Each week the temp comes down 5º. Around here, May is very chilly! They can’t regulate their own body temp until they are fully feathered out.

  2. I just ordered two copies of Tillie lays and egg from Amazon! One as an Easter gift for my 5 yr old and the other copy to go to his classroom at school. We have had chickens for a year now and can’t imagine not having some around. We have 3 dozen chicks in the brooder right now, but they are broilers so they will only be cute for a few short weeks! No problem getting attached to them that’s for sure! But our 11 layers are another story.

    • Thank you! Scholastic has declined the next Tillie book because sales weren’t big enough for them. Maybe after this springtime sales season they’ll reconsider.

  3. My uncle whose brooder house and pen was in the run of his laying flock use to till in garden grade lime about a month before he allowed his new chicks into the brooder run. He opened the gate and allowed the older hens in early or late fall. He said it was a good disinfectant. I never tried it.

    Terry I hope you end up with all pullets I am pretty sure at least one and maybe two of mine I got are going to be roosters and yes I order all pullets, except for the bantams in which they don’t sex them.

  4. This will be so much fun!

    I’ll keep an eye out for your fluff balls!

    All chicken joys,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  5. The goats are looking good. I been reading a bit of about goats and some owners are just mobbed by them when it comes to feeding time, or any having any food at hand. Have you taught yours to stay when it’s feeding time ? Because I have seen quite a few owners bowled over by excited goats when it’s feed time.

    • The first thing that I taught the goats is that I don’t open the stall door unless they have all four feet on the ground. I say “off” and they get down. I also have a “back” cue and they back up (tails wagging!) When I give treats, I ask them to either back up first or jump on their barrels. I also have a “touch” cue – I hold out my flat palm and they nose bump it. I never give them a thing if they jump on me. So, it’s not too bad. But, they are goats! So, I can’t say they’re perfect :)

      • Sigh, if only you lived in Wales. One of my favorite bloggers who I have told you about, and you have described as the chaos farm could really need your help. He is mobbed by sheep and his goat whenever he gets the feed out.

  6. I have been feeding quail and other outdoor birds here in Skull Valley AZ. We have to move back to Colorado and I am so sad about leaving the quail because it’s too cold for them there. I told my husband if I had to leave AZ., I at least want to raise chickens. I’m going to watch your spring process and see if I can do it.:)

    P.S. I have grandchildren that are going to love your Tilly book for Easter.

    • One of my favorite books as a child was “Robert the Quail.” Do you remember that?
      Thanks for buying “Tillie Lays an Egg!”