Monday, March 25, 2013

Chicks Chicks Chicks!

We're getting ready for our chicks. We ordered 25 straight run buckeyes, which is a breed known for cold hardiness, decent egg production, and gentle disposition. Day old chicks are now in the mail and should arrive here piping hot on Wednesday or Thursday.

We've set a couple things in motion to get to prepare for the chicks. First we've built a little area inside our monk's den for them to stay for the first 3-4 weeks including a 250 watt red heat lamp (which is doubling as a seed starter for the time being). We essentially just tore a cardboard box apart and turned it into a circular kind of deal...the only real challenge was to get the lamp the right distance off the ground. Ideally we would have just hung it from the ceiling, but our ceiling is quite crumbly so I had trouble getting anything that would hold the weight of the lamp. I wound up wedging some scrap wood into a cinder block, and screwing some eye hooks into the end of it to guide the cord of the lamp.

It is amazing how much care is required for the little ones...they need to be taught to drink water - by dipping each beak in the water; the water needs to be 98 degrees with a little sugar in it; the space below the lamp needs to be 99-100 degrees, but with cooler spaces for the chicks to escape to. There can't be any corners because the chicks will then pile up in the corner and crush each other.

Once the chicks get older, we plan to pasture them with an electric poultry fence - starting in our front yard where they'll have some tree protection from hawks. We've also contracted a fellow in Illinois to build us a  doghouse which we will convert into a the roosting area for our mobile chicken tractor. The same guy has a trailer he made that the chicken coop can sit on so we can drag it around the property.

Finally, we're blessed in that we have a permanent structure for chickens that we can use in the winter, if any of them survive that long - a concrete floor structure that is about 15'x8'.

I'll update with pictures of the chicks in a few days!

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