Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘baby chicks

Too Cute

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The chicks are doing very well at staying healthy and looking lively. After just a couple of days of not seeing them, the difference was clear. They look bigger, seem more robust, are more active (between frequent bouts of insta-napping [see example at 1:02 of video]), and are showing clear evidence of feather development.

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We are hoping their early vigor will be a characteristic that stays with them through adulthood.

Before we got chickens, I had no idea they could be so captivating. I now understand how some people get so obsessed with them.

Count us among the smitten.

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Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2018 at 6:00 am

Year’s Difference

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We are enjoying the continued lessons from the self-learning school of raising chickens. A year ago was our first attempt. After building a coop from scratch, we ordered nine chicks to be delivered by mail.

Three of those have survived the year and are managing really well today. We are on the verge of asking them to help us learn about introducing them to the twelve new birds that just arrived last week.

What a difference a year makes. Here are pictures from yesterday of our one-year-olds and our new arrivals…

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Here’s hoping they will respond well to our efforts to slowly introduce them to each other in the months ahead. It will be a learning process for all of us.

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Written by johnwhays

March 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

More Chickens

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We have decided to take the plunge. Cyndie has placed the order, I have re-mounted the heat lamp in the brooder, and the chicks are due to arrive at our Post Office this week.

The online chick source has already delivered the starter food Cyndie ordered.

We are getting excited. The first time was a lot more stressful, but with one year of experience behind us, we are feeling a fresh confidence in our chances of raising more chickens.

We certainly haven’t eliminated the potential hazards, but we know that we can deal with the possibilities of worst outcomes. More importantly, we know the joy that happy and healthy chickens bring.

With our Buff Orpington showing such impressive endurance, we ordered three more of that breed. For added diversity, Cyndie also picked out two new breeds: Golden Laced Wyandottes and Black Australorps will soon be bringing their glorious colors to our world.

They will also be bringing us more eggs, eventually.

That’s all well and good, but you know me, I’m more excited about the potential for their devouring ticks and flies.

Here’s hoping for some healthy, hearty chicks. Let the “cheep-cheeping” commence!

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Written by johnwhays

March 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

Crime Scene

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Yesterday morning, Cyndie walked into the barn to find one of the chicks was perfectly perched on the stick I had added to the brooder. Not only are our new babies healthy, but they are smart, too.

The horses are also smart, but they (or at least one of them) didn’t practice healthy decision-making overnight. Beneath the overhang of the barn Cyndie stumbled upon what appeared to be a crime scene. One of the slow-feeder boxes had been assaulted.

Evidence is entirely circumstantial, but we believe one of the geldings, most likely Hunter, was the culprit. The big unanswered question is why? And why all of a sudden, after years of leaving them be, for the most part.

There was a single isolated incident, way back when the boxes were first put in use, that we found one box mysteriously moved out of position. Both times, what surprised me most was a distinct lack of drag marks. I have a hard time visualizing how they might be picking up the box to move it without one part dragging in the dirt.

This time the box was both moved about 10 feet and turned completely upside down.

If I had to guess, I’d say the message for us is that they are unhappy with the limited supply of hay we have been serving, as well as the quality, since they are again getting more of the bales for which they have previously demonstrated a very vivid disdain.

Cyndie held out a suspicion that the grate may have gotten hung up and they were messing with the box to remedy that situation, but became startled by something, leading to the chaotic catastrophe she found in the morning.

That theory lost a little footing when she found this later in the day:

 They didn’t even wait around for darkness to make their opinions known a second time.

I guess I should think about moving the trail cam to the paddock to capture what the horses are up to when the innkeepers are away. The mis-behaver might end up losing some privileges, which is the opposite of what he is after, I’m sure.

I hope this behavior isn’t a way to act out over jealousy about the new tenants getting all the attention in the barn. The chicks are just so irresistibly cute, don’t ya know.

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Written by johnwhays

March 29, 2017 at 6:00 am

Animal Progress

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Things are progressing nicely with both our horses and our new chickens. This time of year, the horses are in the process of shedding their winter coats. Yesterday, while I was cleaning up the paddock, Dezirea made several attempts to use me as a rubbing post for her forehead. I was a little surprised to see she still had her white blaze because my sleeve looked like it had received a full transfer of white hairs.

Legacy had rebuffed Cyndie on Saturday when she brushed out the rest of the herd, so she tried again at feeding time last night. He tolerated her efforts while munching the fresh hay she had just served. The ground was an eye-catching spectacle of white hair.

Maybe it is because of his light coloring, but it sure seems like he sheds a lot more than the other horses.

Meanwhile, the chicks are visibly maturing by the day. I was a little skeptical when Cyndie came in after a day to report they were much bigger, but sure enough, it was noticeable. Over the weekend they have shown significant progress in wing development. There are even a few first glimpses of tail feathers appearing.

I’m just happy we have succeeded in keeping all 10 alive thus far. Actually, Cyndie deserves all the credit. She has meticulously maintained their health with all the internet tools at her disposal, and a hair drier to fluff those little tail feathers after cleanings.

I’m chomping at the bit to get them out on the manure pile to eat bugs. The flies are already active outside, so watching the chicks scratch and peck in the brooder is wonderfully inspiring.

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Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

Growing Fast

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Kids grow up so fast, don’t they? Our new babies are almost to the point where we can’t call them new any more. Born on Monday, they are four days old today and have made it through a couple of nights in our barn. Last night, they shared it with the horses, as Cyndie decided to bring the herd in out of the rain.

I got to see the new game of Queen-of-the-Brood they developed after one of them discovered the little ledge available within leaping range. They seem a little too polite about taking turns for it to be a serious competition.

I hope they are starting their training early for how they are going to leap to the roof of the coop if Delilah ever gets loose in the summer months ahead.

Cyndie spent yesterday working on her technique for treating pasty butt syndrome. Since we seem to be violating a few preventative guidelines, like getting our chicks through the mail and using the heat lamp which doesn’t control temperature precisely, it is not surprising that several of our chicks are having issues.

One of the noticeable signs of growth is the rapid appearance of definition in their wings. They’ll need good strong wings to bat Delilah in the face when she tries to get too close.

Actually, the hound is behaving pretty well around them. I don’t think it took her any time at all to recognize that these are creatures that Cyndie is caring for. I expect she will quickly come to realize they are family.

Of course, that won’t save them from her wrath. The horses have been family for a few years, and she still hollers at them like they were outsiders. The other day, Cyndie and I were tending to business in the paddock while Delilah was leashed outside the gate near the hay shed. Cyndie had just stepped in with a couple of bales of hay in the wheelbarrow and Hunter took a sudden interest.

As he purposefully walked toward Cyndie and those bales, Delilah picked up on the energy and immediately responded with a frenetic spurt of her alarm bark. She was definitely trying to back Hunter off and protect Cyndie from a potential threat.

Makes me wish the dog would have grown up and shown more respect for our wishes in as quick a manner as the growth the chickens have sported in just these last two days.

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Written by johnwhays

March 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

We’re Nesting

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The due date is upon us. Baby chicks are scheduled to ship today and we are preparing for delivery at Wintervale Ranch. Cyndie even bought a stuffed chicken with real feathers that she hoped to use in training Delilah about the soon-to-be-expanding clan we want her to accept as one of our pack. Didn’t really work because she isn’t the least bit interested in it.

We decided to use one of our existing troughs as the brooder, hoping to devise a mount for the heat lamp that will avoid the melting of whatever non-metal material it is.

Over the weekend, I fabricated a mesh cover for it from a roll left over from one of my attempts to protect the trees in the paddock. At first, I thought it was a hassle that it wanted to roll back up and not stay flat, but once I got the dowels attached, that turned out to be a feature, not a bug.

It tends to “grab” the lip of the tub for a nice firm fit.

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I was wrestling with bending the branches I wanted for the radius at each end when I remembered the cuts in the tree stump that Cyndie had photographed, which I recently featured in a post. I made a little slice part way through the branches which facilitated the bend just enough.

You never know from where inspiration might eventually arrive.

We are going to take a shot at raising them in the barn. I’m trying to figure out where I will end up putting a bed out there for Cyndie, since I expect she won’t be able to leave them untended out there for any length of time.

I sure hope these birds will have big appetites for bugs.

If all goes well, I have a feeling we are going to need a bigger coop.

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Written by johnwhays

March 21, 2017 at 6:00 am