Tag Archives: chicks

Meet Our New Chicks and Brooder Tour

3 Fuzzy bums!

fuzzy bums

I’ve been wanting chickens since last summer, and on May 4th we finally picked up our chicks! We drove about 5.5 hours each way to get them, and it was a long and tiring day, the wonderful husband did all the driving. We ended up getting 25 chicks of various ages from day-olds to maybe 2-3 week-olds. A little white chick died a bit after we got home, it was very weak and couldn’t lift its head, and it was bent backwards. Then a speckled sussex died sometime overnight. The next morning we noticed a black australorp with droopy wings, not eating and drinking, so we quarantined it with a warm oatbag, some water and food, but it died that afternoon. Three deaths in less than 24 hours had us really worried, but we now have 22 very healthy and active chicks.

In total, we have 3 black Australorps, 3 speckled Sussex, and 16 others that are a combination of white Plymouth Rock, Columbian Plymouth Rock, and I think white Phoenix. I can tell which ones are the Phoenix since they have slate coloured legs, and I’m beginning to be able to see which ones are Columbians since their black feathering is starting to show a little. As much as I like baby chicks for their adorableness, I’m really looking forward to when they’re fully grown and their individual personality really shows. Plus taking care of baby chicks is a lot of work! They’re awake from 5am to 8:30pm and other than a couple of short quiet times, they’re constantly on the go, eating, drinking, digging, scratching, fluttering, perching, playing, all the while chattering non-stop.

Here they are eating. We give them non-medicated chick feed which we lacto-ferment. For more on lacto-fermentation of chicken feed, see here. It doesn’t look very appetizing, but it doesn’t smell bad. It smells just like sauerkraut, the real kind that’s made with just cabbage, salt and water. I find using the traditional chicken waterer to give them fermented feed is better than using a big dish, otherwise they like to hop right in and get all wet.

Fermented Feed Chicks

Here they are basking in the sun and playing with a piece of sod. I also dig up whole dandelions for them and they love to scratch and peck at them too.

chicks playing on sod in brooder

You can see the chicken nipple waterer we use in this picture. It keeps the water clean and the bedding dry. We also add a bit of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the mother in their water. For the first week, I also put some organic, unpasteurized honey in the water as well.

sod in brooder

Here’s a little video of the chicks scratching at the sod and bedding. We use the deep litter method and with 22 chicks in the house, it doesn’t stink! Once in a while you get a whiff of something, but then I just go and aerate the bedding with a garden trowel and add more pine shavings. Plus the chicks are really good at digging and fluffing up the bedding themselves. Now the brooder may not smell like poop, but there is a slight sweet musty smell that’s not unpleasant. The bedding is probably about 5-6 inches deep now.

And here’s a video of them taking a short afternoon siesta. I have come to treasure these short quiet times. We use Brinsea’s EcoGlow 50 instead of a lightbulb to warm the chicks. It’s like a mother hen. If they need warmth they huddle underneath it, but I have to say, the chicks spend the majority of the day running around eating and scratching. The room temperature averages around 21C or 70F and they seem very comfortable and active. It also provides a more natural day/night rhythm instead of having a light on them 24/7. The only downside to the EcoGlow is that the chicks love to perch on top of it and make a poopy mess.

As for naming them, I simply call them all “Chickie Pie”. Except for one Columbian who likes to hop onto my hand and roost on my arm. I call him/her “my darlin”, I don’t know if I’ll be able to eat that one.

I’ll end with this little speckled Sussex, all tuckered out from a very busy morning.

speckled sussex taking a nap

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Updates Galore

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Winter Vegetable Garden

Ummm, so I think the last time we really picked any veggies from our winter garden was on New Year’s Eve when the husband cooked an amazing meal for us. There was duck and poached pears involved, among other deliciousness. But we really didn’t shower it with the love and attention it deserved. I think we might have cracked the window covers on the green house boxes once on a sunny day, and cleaned the snow off them once. Also, the husband reported back around January that some moles or voles have been digging under the green house boxes to get at our Endive and our Merveilles de Quatre Saisons (fancy heritage French lettuce). Apparently the little fuzz balls have expensive taste. You can see what the winter vegetable garden looked like in November here. Anyways, pretty much the only one that’s barely hanging on is the frilly kale, everything else has disappeared, leaving behind them nice clean patches of soil. We also experimented with whether we could store carrots in the ground over the winter…we could not, they turned to mush. Perhaps if we had a constant snow cover and did not have so many feeze/thaw cycles it would have worked. But the parsnips seemed to have stored better in the ground, the husband harvested quite a few on Monday.

CHICKENS!!

Hopefully by the end of April we’ll be driving to the mainland to pick up our chicks. I had requested 12 black Australorps and 12 speckled Sussex, but it looks like the speckled Sussex won’t work out and we’ll be picking 12 of whatever else the breeder has hatched at the time. We’re aiming for standard bred, dual purpose heritage chickens that’ll be a pleasure to raise on our homestead, and a pleasure to eat. We’ll have to wait around 5 months to taste our first home-raised chicken and 6 months for eggs. We have spent months researching and preparing, and we’re excited!

Maple Syrup

Boiling down Maple Syrup

We boiled down the last bit of sap we collected a week ago and pulled out the taps. I thought to myself, it’s a good thing it’s still cold outside and we need the heat in the house anyways, but for two days it was over 26C in the livingroom and it was hot!

Spring

First Crocus

First Crocus

I never understood why new years start in the winter. For a farmer wannabe, the new year starts when you see your first crocus. But I suppose that doesn’t really work for southern farmers who don’t get to experience all 4 seasons. And for those who know me, yes, I do have some reservations about the upcoming season of black flies, mosquitoes, horseflies, june bugs, earwigs and wasps. Here’s to hoping no wasps inside the house this year, and no black flying beetles that buzz and float into the washroom as I’m sitting on the throne.

Garlic sprout

Some of the garlic we planted in the fall have sprouted! Did I mention that we’re supposed to get 10-15cm of snow tonight and tomorrow and that I’m a bit worried for them?!

Thankful

Well I think that’s about it. It has been a quiet winter, yet dotted with some life changing events, the sudden death of a young friend, and some health issues in the family. But in the midst of it all, we could still see how good Jesus is, and we’re so thankful, and we’re filled with hope.