Thursday, March 13, 2008

22 new members of the family.

You may recall that in a desperate late-night (or early-early-morning) moment this winter I ordered 22 chicks online.

Half are Buckeyes and half are Javas, two domestic breeds I chose from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy critical list. That is to say, both breeds are in danger of disappearing altogether in favor of factory chickens. I already have a Java rooster, named Valentino, and three Buckeye hens. I wonder how they'll take to the next generation?

I got a call this morning at 7:10 from the Post Office that they'd arrived. I drove down and picked up a cheeping package which was making all the postal employees smile.

Then I had to go off to rehearsal. My son Zed stayed home, glued to the spectacle. "It's better than tv," he opined.

First we had to teach them to drink by dipping their beaks in this saucer. I filled it with aquarium stones because chicks are prone to falling into water and drowning. You may think that's dumb, but I read on a chicken list the other day that TURKEY babies are so dumb they can't learn to drink at all - unless you also toss a baby chicken in with them. The chicken can learn by being dunked, and then the turkey babies can learn by watching the chicken. How dumb does a bird have to be that, in comparison, a chicken is a mental prodigy?

For the first half hour or so the chicks preferred to stand all together in one bunch, like a mosh pit.

On the way back from rehearsal I picked up some "Start and Grow." The early adopters figured out there was food in this tower and were pecking away for quite a while while the others were still trying to eat wood shavings and poop. Now they have all gotten with the program and look like a Busby Berkeley musical.

It keeps seeming like it's going to be naptime, but then they run all over each others' heads and naptime is over.

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At 2:19 PM, Anonymous susanlynn said...

Let's talk about chicks ! I love tiny peeps. I just hate adult chickens and roosters.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Sylvia said...

Ha ha! Busby Berkeley, great comparison! They sure are cute and funny. My Aunt Eldina raised turkeys for many years. She claimed domestic (not wild) turkeys are the stupidest animals on earth. I remember her mentioning the drowning thing, also she had to trim their beaks because the chicks would peck each other to death; she had to bring them inside when it rained because they curiously looked up and would drown in the rain, and she clipped their wings because if they flew over the fence and escaped they would beat themselves to death trying to run back in, never figuring out they could just fly back over.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger CherylNewMex said...

I love baby chicks but not adults either. It reminds me of the summer I was six on my grandparents' Iowa farm. I had to help capture and put to bed a flock of newbies. The perfect task for a six year old, I still hold the memory in my hands of their warm, soft little bodies after more than 50 years.


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