Monday, June 27, 2011

Mail Order Chicks

Let me first clarify that the phrase 'mail order chicks' should in no way be confused with 'mail order brides'.  I am referring to the feathered, cheeping chick.  Sorry, boys!  I only call attention to this as I have sons in their twenties, so can just hear the comments they might make!

Last winter I received a hatchery catalog in the mail.  While I have always been intrigued with the thought of cheeping boxes being delivered to my post office, I put the thought of ordering chicks aside.  For a while.  But as winter wore on and I found myself drawn back to the images of so many different breeds of chickens, most of which I had never seen outside the pages of a book or catalog.  By February I had decided that I would just order some of those exotic fowl.  I had lost most of my flock by then and I had a new plan.  To raise young chicks and fix up one of the barns below the house.  The barn the old hens preferred was impossible to make predator proof on my budget, but I figured I could make the smaller one work.
I made lists of the chickens I would order, then amended the lists.  I knew I wanted gentle hens as I love being able to walk amongst the hens as they cluck at my feet.  But these are just the kind of hens that foxes and coyotes love.  Easy pickings.  So then I added a few whose descriptions included phrases like "very alert" and "forages and avoids predators well".  Next the kids got in on the fun and spent time looking through the catalog, each one choosing their favorite.  Final decisions were made and the order was placed for delivery the week of June 27th.

Contents of the smaller box
 Today was the long-awaited day.  It started with a phone call from the post office at 5:51 AM.  I raced off to get the chicks, rush them back home and settled in as quickly as possible.  It is just amazing that those tiny fragile creatures could survive the trip from Iowa to Oregon.  Survive they did and arrived with every single one alive.  They were so happy to join the four little banties in the warm stock tank where they drank, ate, stretched their wings and ran from one end to the other.  They will soon outgrow this setup, but it will keep them safe and warm for several days while they build strength to enter a larger space.

Bearded Belgian d'Uccle Mille Fleur banties
 Unfortunately, I have lost one little Mille Fleur banty and believe it may have been my own fault.  I think I missed him when showing them the water and dipping their beaks to encourage drinking.  He seemed okay when I unpacked them and moved them to the stock tank.  Then again, maybe it was the little guy on the right side of the picture and he wasn't just dozing as I had thought.  In additon, I am having some trouble with all three White Cochins.  They arrived far weaker than the other chicks and I have been hand watering and feeding them throughout the day.  Time will tell if they make it or not.  I will keep doing whatever I can to help them along.

Partridge Cochin chick
These little guys were so lively I had a hard time getting a picture of them.  One immediately jumped out of the basket I was using to contain them for photographing.
Until next time, may all the chicks in your life be strong and healthy!


Mary said...

Susan, followed your link here from FB. What gorgeous little chicks and it sounds like you and your family had fun picking them out. Enjoyed seeing baby chicks again. It's been years.


Paula said...

Oh! They're so sweet. How many did you get?

Paula said...

Update please! How are those babies doing? Are they gangly teenagers yet, or still cute chicks?