chickens, farmhouse, food, Uncategorized

Raising Baby Chicks – The first Two Weeks

I’ve lived in rural Missouri my whole life, but I’ve never raised or cared for an animal other than my beloved grumpy cat doppelgänger Poopsie who disappeared or spontaneously combusted or was abducted by the neighbor in 2016.

So needless to say I have no idea what I’m doing – but hey, I’ve managed to keep three humans alive for a number of years and as far as I understand they’re fairly more complicated than animals, so it can’t be that hard, right?

I’ve learned that I do not do well when I try to do more than two big projects or new things at a time.  So this spring, chicks and gardening are the two things.  And that’s that. Except maybe composting.  I’d consider that a medium sized project though so that’s ok.

I used to (still fighting it off) have this complex of thinking I had to do EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW ALL AT ONCE or I was a failure or would miss out on some imaginary window of opportunity or something.  Or that “if I could just have X amount of hours/days to myself to get things in order, life would be so much better.  But that way of thinking is so, so counterproductive and what actually happened is I would run and run all day in circles and accomplish very little, all while feeling exasperated and frustrated and behind and defeated every day.  This iron yoke worn around my neck of FOMO/perfectionism/do-it-all image idolatry leads to actual groping around in daylight like a blind person groping in the darkness, but not finding the way.  Deuteronomy 28:28.   Peace and gratitude are so much easier, and actually far more productive.  Focusing on a couple of things God has laid on my heart is always so much more fruitful than trying to please everyone (mainly myself).

Back to the chicks tho.

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They were soooooo tiny just two weeks ago when my sister and I picked them up from Cackle Hatchery.

Most Hatcheries will ship their chicks, but I ordered them too late to have them in time for Easter for the kids’ baskets, and its also really hard on them – meaning you could lose a few in the process.  Plus, my sister and I are always up for a good caffeinated road trip, so the drive was ok with me.

I do want to add a few more varieties of chicks and some ducks at some point, so we may end up trying out the shipping option then!

Rather than walk you though every single step, I’m going to share the two resources that were the most helpful to me.  Number one would have to be Azure Farm’s guide to raising baby chicks.  Annette’s post is comprehensive and she has lots of pictures.  The other is the care guide from Cackle Hatchery.  Between these two site I’ve found everything I need to know.

I’m using clear totes for brooders and they are perfect.  The chicks can see out and the kids can see in.  Having two of them also makes cleaning and changing pine shavings a lot easier.

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And yes, those are extra racks from our oven that I have on top.  You can use chicken wire too because once they reach 2-3 weeks old they will fly out!

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So far, caring for them has been very easy and only takes me about ten minutes a day, if that.  But we do play with them a lot and the kids even sing to them and put on talent shows for them lolz.

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They are so fast and poop constantly so when I let them out to run around I only do a few at a time and lay down a big towel with paper towels or newspaper over it.  They love exploring beyond the brooder and I can’t wait to get them outside in the yard when they don’t need a heat lamp anymore!

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We put some rocks and sticks in the brooder and they love that too.  I check their food and water morning and night and change the water at least once a day and the food when its close to running out.  You don’t ever want to let them run out of food.

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I use an organic Non-GMO starter feed from Orscheln’s (much cheaper buying in store than Amazon.) And plan on free ranging them and giving them lots of good veggie scraps as well to keep them healthy and happy.  I also want to sow clover in our yard for them as well and to keep down on mowing. Big John thinks I’m a nutcase for wanting clover in my yard but he still loves me so that’s ok.  I think he had no idea how eccentric I was when he asked me to be his lady for lyfe.  Lucky him.  Never boring!

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We did lose on of the babies a few days ago and it was so sad!  They gave us an extra barred rock at the Hatchery anyway but I was still so disappointed that she didn’t pull through after a spoon fed her and cared for her when she got sick.  All of my chicken friends have said its normal to lose one every now and then and it just happens!  I suppose that’s life with animals and am grateful to get to steward some of Gods creatures no matter what.

I chose our breeds based on egg color.  I wanted a big variety of colorful eggs because why not?!  We have four of each Barred Plymouth Rocks, Olive Eggers, and Easter Eggers.  My son John wants to add some dark, dark brown egg layers so we will probably get some Cuckoo Marans as well.

If you’ve been wanting to take the leap and add chickens to your homestead or back yard or farm I’d say just go for it!  It truly is so little work for such a great reward.  Can not wait to blow up IG so hard with egg pics late this summer/early fall.  Sorry in advance!

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