Mar 26, 2012

Owning Chicks.

Last October before Tatiana's birthday she declared she wanted two things for her birthday:

 To quit piano lessons...nice try.
 And to get baby chicks.....nice try number two :)

 At that point in my life I could not fathom adding chicks to the list of people/mammals that would watch me cry and struggle :) so I did not make all her birthday wishes come true last year. I just could not muster the strength. But little did the Baird family know that Tatiana had successfully planted the baby chick idea in her mom's mind. This idea waited patiently in my little old muddled mind for all of November, December, and January, finally, sometime in February I discovered I was actually feeling a little more like myself and got the notion to read about the joys of owning chickens.

 So one evening in February Tatiana and I sat on my bed with the laptop and we read, and read ALL about owning chickens. I was surprised to discover that the more I read, the more owning chickens actually felt do-able. So I found myself declaring we would do it. I gleefully ordered a catalog that you can order baby chicks from. As we waited for that catalog I started to notice references to chickens in every book I read...yep, skimmed over the chicken parts in stories before now :) I called my sister who has owned chickens. I cornered people at church who were rumored to have had chickens. I most definitely googled chickens. I got magazines from the library that made a reference to chicken on the front cover...yes, there are magazines that have the word chicken on the front cover no, not Glamour or Vogue, or The Atlantic Monthly other kinds of magazines :) I stuffed myself full of information on chickens and chicken coops.

As I delved into the chicken owners world a few things immediately caught my attention. First off, if you own chickens you must sign a paper stating that you vow to always refer to your chickens as "the girls." I smiled over and over as I read article after article and blog after blog telling me what sort of nesting boxes "the girls" liked and what sort of perches "the girls" liked. And what to do if "the girls" pick on one of their own. Second thing that caught my eye was the details on many of these chicken coops. Some of them have nicer houses than I do. There are some seriously spoiled chickens out there :)

When the Murray McMurray poultry catalog arrived I was very impressed with it's glossy appearance and how thick it was. All catalogs arriving in our home have to pass my glossy test and my thickness test. I immediately sat down to look at it. I got lots of great information from the catalog about taking care of baby chicks and how hard it is to determine a baby chicks sex, but one piece of information stopped me in my tracks and that was the fact that you needed a minimum order of 25 chicks to order from Murray McMurray. TWENTY FIVE chicks was not the number I had planned on owning. We had already decided that six chicks would be perfect for the Baird family. Five for us and one for our Neighbor Sarah. I was momentarily stopped in my chicken planning tracks with this information but somehow I recovered and discovered that our local feed store would order chicks for you and then you could order the exact amount you wanted because they could combine them with other orders that were under 25. Perfect! Disappointing the Baird children... like I always keep doing... was averted :)

I got on the "baby chick order form mailing list" at the feed store way back in February and finally last week the order form to order chicks arrived in my mail box. I must come clean and confess that I am so silly that I was also on the "call when the order forms arrive in the store list" so I had already driven to the Feedstore to pick up the order form that also came a few days later in the mail.....yes, this is very typical Jennifer so do not be alarmed that I have two order forms for baby chicks.  Now that I had the magical form I knew what kind of chicks they were offering me and how much money they were. Baby chicks are cheep :) The most expensive chick was $3.75. I know, I know I have to pay for their feed and build them a coop but I still love that they are basically cheep :)

I, once again, gathered Tatiana, we got the laptop, and we started googling chickens so that we could figure out what kind we wanted to order. The first one we googled was Buff Orpington. The name is enough for this chicken to be on my list of one I must own. It sounds so regal :) Yes, chickens can be regal. We first checked out their google images then we read about them. I immediately felt like I was adopting children. There were pictures and then there was information. Right down to their personalities. According to the Backyard Chickens website Buff Orpingtons are the "Scarlet Johannsons of the chicken world" they are beautiful, with a nice personality. What? :) Barred Rocks are steady and reliable and excellent winter/summer brown egg layers. I continued to sort through the descriptions of Americauna's, White Leghorns and Production Reds finding out who behaves if they are in a coop all the time. Who prefers to roam the yard. Who is moody. Who is smart. Who is plucky. Who is docile. Who gets broody. Who lays brown eggs......seriously, I wish I could have chosen my kids personalities and likes and dislikes like I am choosing my baby chicks.

Tatiana chose a Buff Orpington and Natalie chose a Americana which will lay us colored eggs and has a "fun" personality. And I chose a Barred Rock, another Buff Orpington and a White Leghorn even though the rumor on the web is that they can be nervous :) I guess laying eggs could make you nervous :)

The chicks will arrive the second week of May. They need a brooder, food, water, bedding, and a light for the first several weeks and then they can be moved into their coop.

I am in the process of negotiating about our chicken coop with the husband. Since he grew up on a farm and had chickens on that farm I have my work cut out for me convincing him that weeks of reading qualifies me to say what the chicken coop should be like.

I am excited to have the chicken adventure. Their manure is the best in the land. Yes, I googled it and chicken poop is the best for your garden...cow is second :) They will give us eggs. Food is good. They will provide jobs for the kids. And apparently some entertainment will also be in store :)


C Tam said...

OH, you are once again my hero. Backyard chickens has been on my bucket list for decades. Ever since my 2nd grade teacher had us hatch chicks in an incubator. Good luck!

Danielle W. said...

Hi Jenny.... Buff Orpingtons are a really nice chicken to have. We have them as well as bantams. Buffs are very docile, you can teach them to eat out of your hand. They will cluck at you when you feed them chops. Americanas are nice too. Enjoy your chickens- Murray McMurray is the best place to get them from!