Update: Live video stream and multiple-angle stills are up!
Tomorrow’ a big day here at The Unlikely Homestead – I’m going to head out to Zeeland, and pick up ten tiny little day-old chicks! For those keeping score at home, that’s twice as many as we picked up the first time, two years ago.
Of the original five, only two remain – Gia and Nox. Henry was the first to be taken by some hungry critter, followed by Chickenhead. We got much better at locking them up at night after that point, but Cricket was an internal layer and had to be euthanized.
I miss my three little friends; may they all rest in peace.
Still, I am very much looking forward to meeting our new little friends tomorrow! They should be hatching today, I’d imagine, or first thing in the morning.
We’ll be getting 2 golden-laced Wyandottes, 2 silver-laced Wyandottes, 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 4 black Australorps. Our 5 black sex links were very mellow and non aggressive with each other – I hope that holds true for this batch, too! I picked these breeds based on research online for temperament, as well as for laying capabilities.
These girls will (I hope) be able to provide our little group of friends who have expressed interest in purchasing them with fresh, organic, eggs. While the girls will not be Free Range in the sense of having the run of the whole yard, they have a substantial coop, which I’d really like to add onto this year if we can manage it, so I can rotate them between two enclosures. This will save the forage from complete and utter destruction. I had no idea how quickly chickens would decimate a 40 x 30 area of anything green!
When the girls went into the coop, it was grassy:
Now, it’s just bare ground with the occasional woody weed, or mulberry tree sapling.
Back to prepping for the arrival tomorrow!
Being very much a procrastinator when it comes to Stuff I Don’t Want to Do, I put off setting up their enclosure until this afternoon. Grudgingly, I prowled through the basement, looking for the dog crate, the feeder, the waterer. The dog crate was in the garage, and, as it turns out, very mildewy. Crap!
I did not want to subject my new little chickies to toxic fumes from bleach or conventional cleaners (although if I’d discovered this a week ago, I might have hit it with bleach anyhow, as the fumes would have had more time to disperse,) so I set to with vinegar mixed with lemon and tea tree oil. On the extra-large, husky-sized dog crate on the half-shell.
In my tiny bathtub.
Yes, this was every bit as fun as it looked. My bathroom is the only one with a full tub, and none of our bathrooms is large. Indeed, the crate took up the majority of the space in the room.
After a thorough vinegar soaking and scrubbing, followed by a baking soda and vinegar scrubbing, the mildew stains were still present and I really found myself pining for bleach. Then I remembered – Jill had written about this! I knew she had – in fact, I thought I remembered it being linked from her main page. It was: Naturally Disinfecting the Chicken Coop. Bingeaux!
Jill also used vinegar. Hm. This gave my confidence a boost, but I still didn’t feel comfortable about the potential mildew in the crevices of the plastic, so I fetched the peroxide and generously scrubbed the crate down with that, too. Finally, I rinsed everything very well with our ridiculously hot tap water and called it good.
I can still see stains, but I hope the evil stuff is dead, dead, dead.
Now I admit, there’s a part of my brain saying, “Erin, chickens normally hatch in, y’know, a barn, where there is dirt and bacteria and who knows what else.” True story, and chickens were bred from hardy jungle birds, and many barnyard chickens do indeed begin their very first day in the coop or barn.
However, given all the genetic shenanigans that come from breedings, I’m not certain the immune systems of these little girls will be as robust as their Indian ancestors. To be honest, I did have half a mind to see if Gia or Nox would be interested in brooding them, but then a.) I’d miss the fun of the babies, b.) I couldn’t be certain what they were eating, and c.) I don’t want to hang out in the chicken coop when there’s talk of a sleet storm coming this way.
No, they’ll be staying in the house for probably 6 to 8 weeks.
Last year, the babies started out in the basement, where they stayed until it was warm enough to let them outside. This year, I’m starting them in my office, where I can spend more time with them and enjoy their company.
Since I’m starting them out on bath towels as “litter” for the first week, dust won’t be too bad a problem. When I switch to pine shavings, I’ll likely have to move them elsewhere to keep the computers from getting clogged up. But for now, they have a cozy little corner right next to Mama’s desk.
I’ll need to pick up some hardware cloth tomorrow to put a lid on the crate; curious dogs and cats do not need to put their noses, teeth or claws into the brooder. In a few weeks, I’ll need to find a bigger home for them. Last year, they stayed in the half-shell crate until they were ready to go outside, but The Engineir stole the other half of the crate for a litter box. >.<
Because I’m married to The Engineir, who is a computer engineer by trade, we have set up not one, not two, but three web cams for the chicks!
Last year, “Live Nude Chick Cam” was a pretty big hit, so we’re bringing it back for a second time.
For the time being, the page is just automatically-reloading stills. I may at some point be able to convince The Engineir to let us do full video. 😀
Stay tuned for tomorrow afternoon, when you can meet our new little friends, too!