Thursday, May 10, 2012

Babies, Babies, Babies Everywhere

Baby Chicks ~ Day 1

Picture perfect...
Bella & Dandelion
Yesterday was a busier than normal day at our house.  When getting ready for any baby, there are preparations to be made, things you forgot, last minute trips to the store.  Well, in this case, we were preparing for 277 baby chicks and really had to improvise in the end.  The plan was to build a brooder (baby chick house) for these little guys.  If you know Daddy at all, you know that he is a problem solver to the core & he thought & thought about the best way to build the brooder, etc.  The day we went to get the lumber, he decided that we would turn our storage shed (very inefficiently used) as our chicken house and he would build a insulated room inside of the shed for brooding.  The room has to stay at about 95 degrees the first week!  If you can tell by the pictures, the brooding room is not finished, but it looks beautiful so far!  I am so excited to see that little used shed turned into something useful & wonderful.  We're using a kiddie swimming pool in our school room for a few days, until the brooding boxes are finished.  

 Our 212 to date consist of Barred Rocks, Black Australorps, Black Jersey Giants, Silverlaced Wyandottes & Jumbo Cornish Rock Crosses (ugly meat birds).  We have 50 Goldenlaced Wyandottes & 15 guineas coming next week.  

We add these to our existing colorful flock of 9.  We have 1 bantam, Clover, 1 Polish chicken, Chachi, Suzan, Chloe, Gena, our guinea, Salt & Pepper, Kiko, and a couple others.  They've been free ranging for a year and have done wonderfully.  Clover, Chachi & Suzan are all about 7 years old and have started laying eggs consistently again after a couple year break.  I cannot say enough for the healing power of food and letting our chickens free range in some capacity. 
Dandelion ~ 1 of 2 Bantams

The kids are being so helpful, changing waters, digging worms, checking the temperature of the pool, to make sure they aren't too hot or cold, changing their bedding...  The list goes on, but it is all worth it.  The lessons they are learning by taking care of these animals are worth more than money can buy.  All are very excited to help & do the chores assigned with these little guys, just to be around them.  The nostalgia of it all may wear off in time, but for now, I'm enjoying this adventure.

Some things we're doing a little different.  I do not want to view our chicks as just "meat birds" or egg laying machines, but as our animals that we are in charge of & have a great responsibility to.  If we take good care of them, they will take good care of us.  They will put food on our table, certainly.  They will provide manure for our gardens, to help us grow better food for the future.  And they provide hours of entertainment for our children.  
Our family does not go on antibiotics unless it is absolutely necessary.  We didn't want to start these chicks out on traditional chick starter food that has antibiotics in it.  We've been adding apple cider vinegar, kefir & garlic to their water.  We've also made their food from whole grains, ground them a bit & soaked them.  Very little food is being wasted like when we give them an almost powdery food.  In a few short weeks, they will be able to free range for short periods at a time and they'll start catching their own food.  

This is the harder route, I'm sure, but I think it'll be worth it.  I've been called weird before, when I plant my tomatoes in my flower garden & transplant stinging nettle.  I love to experiment and see how things will work out.  I'm encouraged by Daddy's adventurous spirit & his words to do it, even if it means a little more work.  
Clover ~ The little mother

A funny little story...  As I brought the chicks into the house from the van yesterday, Clover was in the driveway.  She followed me into the house twice, searching for these babies she was hearing.  She never goes in the house!  I have heard that bantams are good mothers.  We shall see.
Gina ~ The guard dog

An interesting fact...  Guineas are excellent "guard" birds.  Gina will sound off an alarm if she sees a chipmunk or anything out of the ordinary.  I have been walking through the yard & been surprised to see her "charging" me, head down and running at me full speed ahead.  And they are ugly.  I'm looking forward to a few more, but I have a feeling that 15 are going to be quite LOUD!  
Chachi is just Chachi

Polish chickens are FUNNY!  Chachi's feathers are so long, they kind of block her eye sight.  She has a tendency to get lost, if her family moves on without her.  And when she gets lost, she squats down and camouflages herself, making her virtually impossible to see.  I have had to send one of the kids out when it was down pouring to go take her to her family, so that she would be safe.  And after it rains and she comes out to scratch & look for bugs, she is one dirty bird!

As I was monitoring the temperature of the "brooder" today, I was so thankful that God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided for me a perfect little brooder for our new little one, perfect temperature, perfect food delivery system, just perfect...  Thank you, Jesus!

The journey continues around here.  Never a dull moment.  
But full of memories and funny stories.

In Jesus Name, the Author & Finisher of Our Faith,
Daniel & Laura

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