Tag Archives: speckled sussex

Sunrise Chickens

Waking up early used to be pure torture for me, and by early I mean anytime before 10am. Now I do get up at 5am for work sometimes and if I wasn’t working, I would get up around 9am, but still, I’m a lover of some major sleeping in. That was the Before-Chickens era.

Nowadays the sky begins to lighten before 4:30am, with sunrise before 5:30am, which means I’m mostly up and out at the chicken coop around 5am. Now don’t get me wrong, waking up early everyday hasn’t become an easy thing for me to do, but it hasn’t been as dreadful as I had thought it would be neither. Sometimes I do lie in bed a few extra minutes, debating with myself whether I should just sleep a little more. But knowing how much the chickies love being outside at day break to gobble up insects that have moved into the run during the night, I trudge sleepily out to the coop. I call out to them as I open up the door, and they all come fluttering out, squawking excitedly. Pretty soon, they settle down, chirping contentedly as they scratch and peck and stretch their wings.

With a smile on my face as I stand among my little herd of chickens, all bathed in the warm summer sunrise, I realize that waking up at 5am has some very sweet rewards.Chicken in the sunrise 

It’s only 5:30am, but hey, why not have a little nap together on the roost?chickens in the sunrise

Ok so sometimes I actually get up closer to 6am than 5am, and a couple of times I did accidentally sleep in till close to 7am. Another confession, I am still looking forward to the time when the sun will rise at a much later hour.

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Transformation in the Blink of an Eye

It has been super busy here in the past month and a half, but finally, here’s an update on my little chickie pies. They now range from 8-11 weeks old, and they have transformed from tiny fluff balls, to awkward scraggly looking teenagers, to mini versions of their future adult selves in about 2 months. I look back on these pictures and am just amazed at how tiny they used to be.

Here they are, tiny and fluffy, playing on a piece of sod and a little roost in their brooder (which they outgrew very quickly).

new chicks

Another picture of tiny fluffy chicks playing with sod and a little roost. I have a lot of these pictures. I hadn’t realized how many similar pictures I had taken until I tried to pick some out to share with you on this blog. But to a proud chicken mom, each moment and picture is unique!

new chicks on sod

One of my sweet little speckled Sussex ran out to investigate the camera.

speckled sussex chick

More tiny fluffy chicks warming themselves under the Brinsea EcoGlow 50. We were very happy with it. The chicks were able to have normal wake/sleep cycles without a glaring light over them 24hrs a day. They were very active out and about away from the heat most of the day, and slept soudly at night underneath it. It uses 60 watts and we had it on for 4 weeks before we moved everybody out to the coop.

chicks under brinsea ecoglow 50

Here they are starting to turn into awkward teenagers, digging through the dandelions and playing on another roost the husband made for them. Notice the gorgeous feathering on the speckled Sussex’s wing.

roost in brooder

Here are the awkward teenagers sunning themselves on the roost. Notice the really awkward looking one standing up.

roost in brooder

Awkward teenagers peering at me with their beady eyes. Three in the background taking a dust bath. We had to add another big box to the original brooder box so they don’t drive each other, and me, crazy, hence the square cut-out door.

awkward teenage chicks

And this picture is from last week, mini-adults. They grow up so fast, literally.

chickens in the sun

And here is “my darling” whom I mentioned in the previous post. He was the friendliest chick from the start, was the first to hop onto my hand whenever I reached into the brooder to do anything, and eventhough he’s a much bigger boy now (at least I think it’s a boy), he still wants snuggle time everyday.

Columbian Plymouth Rock

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