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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Peep! Peep!

Well, I could tell you how exactly it all happened, how we spontaneously ended up with 5 new pets, but I think the photos alone tell the story sufficiently.

If I wasn’t holding the camera, I’d be right there next to the boys with a chick in my own hand and ‘aaaawwwwhhhh’ and ‘ooooooooooooh….so cute!’

These 5 little guys came home with us in a cardboard box. In the car ride home, I had to think of a good explanation to tell Scott, how we left the house to get haircuts & shop for school supplies and came home with 5 chicks, no haircut and only 2 reams of paper.

“Uh…the hairdresser forgot to bring her scissors to the shop….and….uh….Target ran desperately low on school supplies, I even had to steal these 2 reams from someone else’s cart….and…ummmm…..we drove 20 miles to the farm supply store to see if they had any crayons.”

Which still doesn’t explain these chirps. Or the 10 pound bag of pine shavings. Or the 5 pound bag of feed that I lugged into the house. There was no way I could hide the chicks and then raise them in secret.

“Why is your closet chirping?”

So I had to fess up to Scott, “I am an enabler. I encouraged the children to fall in love with these chicks.”

the chicks

Let’s start with the 2 two-week old Amauracanas, which lay Easter-egg colored eggs, blue and green.

She’s the bigger one – a very curious chick who likes to spread and flap her wings! We haven’t named the Amauracanas yet – would love some suggestions – what does she look like?

The other Amauracana is a little smaller, very cuddly. What would you name her?

 

This yellow peep is 1-week old “Fireball Flapper”, named by Andrew. She’s a Golden Sex Link and will lay brown eggs. Super cuddly, loves to sit on Andrew’s shoulder.

Nathan named little 1-week old gal “Frenzy Cutie-Pie” she’s the smallest of all of them, but is crazy-fast. I don’t know what breed she is, maybe some of you chicken experts can give me a clue? A friend thought Frenzy might be another Amauracana.

The last one, we let Scott name (pssst….the best way to get your husband to accept and love the chicks? give him one to name)

This is Oreo, all black with a spot of white on her head and near her feet. She’s a Plymouth Rock, and will turn into a gorgeous black-white hen, also called “Barred Rock.” Oreo is also 1-week old.

DIY brooder for the chicks

We brought them home in a cardboard box and needed a little larger home for them, something a little higher too.

When caring for chicks, you can spend money buying a fancy brooder (little chicky house) or DIY with what you have. We had these big plastic totes.

We lined the box with soft pine shavings.

Set the waterer to one side.

And of course the feed. We poured the feed into a glass mason jar –

– and the feeder screws perfectly on.

Invert it and voila! The glass mason jar is great – adds weight to the feeder so that the chicks can’t tip it over when they get a little older.

We placed the food in the other corner of the box, thinking it would give the chicks plenty of space to….uh…play…hang out….or do what chicks do….

….which apparently is just eat, we found out.

Re-strategize. Food and water are the center of their universe. *nodding* I like them already, except replace wine instead of water for me please!

Once they were fed and watered, the flocks were as happy! They played….

…and even took a nap.

Here in Florida, it’s hot enough outside that it’s the perfect temperature during the day. We have a screen enclosed patio, so there’s no danger of evil predators.

We learned that for chicks in their first week of life, they need a temperature of 95F, then decrease the temperature by 5 degrees each week. It’s been 90-95F outside here, so we kept the box on the patio without any need for a heat lamp.

Once the sun started going down, we set up a lamp bought at the hardware store + clamp + infrared heat lamp.

The lamp was hooked up to a dimmer switch that Scott had rigged up (extension cord + electrical outlet + dimmer switch).

We measured the temperature with this little handy device – it’s an infrared surface thermometer that I use to measure how hot my oven or grill is. (I have similar infrared surface thermometer for sale at the Steamy Kitchen store.

Here’s the back of it. Just point the scanner thingy towards whatever surface you want to measure. Control the intensity of the light/heat with the dimmer switch until you get the right temperature.

We didn’t think we needed a cover for the box, until we saw this:

and then another!

“Hey, get back in the box!

As a temporary measure, we removed a screen from one of our windows and placed it on top. Scott will fashion a more sophisticated screened lid later.

I think Coco will make an excellent “Daddy.”

6 months until we have fresh eggs every day!

 

 

 



54 Responses to “Peep! Peep!”

  1. Lissa — 8/18/11 @ 12:03 pm

    This is so intriguing to me! Please keep us updated with their growth (and where they will live when they’re bigger) and their eggs :)

  2. Amanda — 8/18/11 @ 12:06 pm

    did you have to get a permit?

  3. Bigbearswife — 8/18/11 @ 12:13 pm

    I sooo want little chicks bad! we have the land, I just need to find some chicks for sale

  4. nicole — 8/18/11 @ 12:13 pm

    sooo excited for you guys! and jealous too.

    I think the bigger one could be called Big Mama or Bruiser. ha

  5. Dee — 8/18/11 @ 12:22 pm

    Sooo cute! I totally want! I heard chickens can, well, kinda smell–envy you your space. ;p

  6. I’d love to have some chickens. I think that it might upset the condo board… Have fun!

  7. Super cute! I recall rearing chicks while growing up with the family. We had fresh eggs all the time. Nothing beats that :D And of course, bonus is we had a different one to play with as well.

  8. This reminds me of when I was a kid, every Easter my Dad would take me to the feed store to see the baby chicks, ducks, and rabbits they brought in for the season. I used to love holding them and feeling their little heart beat.

    I love how curious Coco is.

  9. Raquel — 8/18/11 @ 1:24 pm

    I love them! I have thought about getting backyard chickens for my suburban home, and I have a ton of bookmarks to prove it!

    I hate to say it – but watch your dog! But I’m sure you’ve been doing the research and know about canine instinct. There was even a Dog Whisperer ep where a family called in Cesar because the family dog had killed a couple of their chickens. I will be watching for more peep peep updates!

  10. Jules — 8/18/11 @ 1:28 pm

    You might be interested in checking out the forums on the Backyard Chickens site. What’s commonly marketed as Ameraucanas at feed stores are typically really crosses that we call Easter Eggers. Most of them do lay very pretty eggs, and some of mine have been as blue as any true Ameraucana’s eggs are supposed to be. The true ones have a very specific breed standard with only a few colors allowed for registry. I like mine anyway.

  11. leanne — 8/18/11 @ 1:34 pm

    You’re going to love having chickens! They’re also pretty addictive. Once I started seeing all the different breeds at our feed store, I wanted one of everything.

    We have a Barred Rock and she lays the biggest eggs of our 3 chickens. We used to have a Buff Orpington, who was also a good layer.

    You’ll find that chickens (when they’re grown) will eat everything – grass clippings, weeds, veggie scraps, shrimp tails, leftover meat, rice, cheese (ours love cheese!) and anything else you want to throw their way.

    I can’t wait to see what you end up with for a chicken coop!

  12. Jennifer S. — 8/18/11 @ 1:43 pm

    I love having chickens! Looks like you are off to a good start! Even as chicks they like to roost, some of them. The more you handle them now, the more they will be friendly as they get older. Ours come when we call, it is so great to see a big ‘ol chicken come running. :) We have four laying hens right now and get about 3 or 4 eggs a day. It is hot where we live so we put in a cooler in their laying area, they are a tad spoiled, lol.
    I agree with the previous poster, our chickens love scraps! Their favorites right now are blueberries, cantaloupe and whole corn on the cob. We get ours when it is on sale 10/$1 and they love it. :)
    Can’t wait to read future updates! :)

  13. Bev Weidner — 8/18/11 @ 2:03 pm

    That. Is. Awesome.

    They are so cute I almost fell over! And I’m jealous that you’ll have fresh eggs. REALLY jealous.

  14. vashti — 8/18/11 @ 2:42 pm

    I have chickens and all mine started as little peepers like yours. I am totally in love with each one. Hope you enjoy your little flock as much as I enjoy mine.
    Have fun.

  15. Sharon Miro — 8/18/11 @ 3:04 pm

    They are addictive!

    Several months ago, my neighbor Chris, and my daughter (www.formerchef.com) were talking about fresh eggs–and boom. Two weeks later we had chicks!

    We started out with 7 and now have 18-you can see our saga, and the TajMahal of coops that we built for them at http://www.mountroyalfarms.com

    We have got our first egg last week…only one of the older hens is laying, but I expect the others are not far behind.

    They do eat everything–they even like watermelon rind!!

  16. sara — 8/18/11 @ 4:33 pm

    We had a pet chicken when we were little, and she got so tame, that she and the dog took naps together in the sunshine :)

  17. Tina — 8/18/11 @ 4:38 pm

    The two unnamed chickies should be called “Speckles” and “Freckles”!! Also, I love that you spontaneously came home with chickens. So cute. My friends got 4 chicks recently, but two of them got carried off by a fox. Yikes! Good thing you’ve got CoCo on duty :)

  18. Megan — 8/18/11 @ 4:46 pm

    That’s a big rubbermaid tote full of AWWWW!!!! I require chickens someday. Hunnyon the other hand does not feel that intense pull of cute and cuddliness.

  19. This is awesome! Your chicks are so adorable!

    Definitely please keep blogging about them as they grow. I’ve been toying around with the idea of raising some hens so that we can have fresh eggs and so that I will feel good about having eggs from a humane resource :)

    Love how good Coco is with them. So cute!

  20. Chris — 8/18/11 @ 6:36 pm

    I can’t wait to see how you dip them in yellow dyed marshmallow creme and roll them in sugar next Easter!

    What? Why are you looking at me like that?

  21. Bettina — 8/18/11 @ 9:09 pm

    Oh my goodness they are all so adorable… but I’m a little obsessed with Frenzy Cutie-Pie!

  22. Congratulations and welcome to the wonderful world of chicken ownership! We are getting ready to add bantam chicks to our flock soon.

  23. Rescie — 8/18/11 @ 11:02 pm

    Don’t you need a rooster to have eggs? I don’t know but adore the chicks. My dad raised chicks and fell in love with them. My sister and I weren’t thrilled because they picked at our ankles and drew blood.

    • SteamyKitchen — 8/19/11 @ 8:00 am

      Hens lay eggs with or without a Rooster, but you need a Rooster if you want more baby chicks

      In our case, we just want the eggs, not more baby chicks! :-)

  24. Kenna R — 8/18/11 @ 11:43 pm

    Hi Jaden! I am so happy that you have your baby chicks! I am about six months ahead of you with my baby chicks. I got my very first egg yesterday!

    I sure hope that Oreo doesn’t turn out to be a black sex link rooster!! He sure looks like it to me!

    Have fun and enjoy them. Can’t wait to read more about them!!

  25. JulieD — 8/19/11 @ 12:23 am

    Oh my goodness…so sweet. I love the pictures of the boys with the chicks and of course the ones with Coco. I think she thinks these are her new buddies!

  26. Melissa — 8/19/11 @ 2:25 am

    We got chicks a couple months ago. They are so fun to watch and my daughter loves them. Have fun!

  27. Jason — 8/19/11 @ 6:47 am

    You only need a rooster if you want the eggs to hatch.

  28. Urwhatu8 — 8/19/11 @ 7:55 am

    I got four chickens early in the summer, but was not able to get them until they were 8 weeks old. You will not believe how fast they grow so do keep taking those pics. I have two Araucanas, Samantha and Barbarita, and two Buff Orpingtons, Henrietta and Esmerelda….I think, because they were bigger and older, we did not give them chick names, but more grown up names. I was told that they start to lay at 20 weeks…so exciting. Because you handled yours a lot from the get go, I think they will always be very cuddly and friendly. Except for Henrietta, mine are a bit stand offish. They love their feed, but they really love black rice, purslane and other weeds, spinach, ears of corn, and all the perennials in my garden! Ouch! Have fun. Write with questions, if you have any. Polly

  29. Kim in MD — 8/19/11 @ 1:45 pm

    It was only a matter of time, with your new farm and all! How very exciting, Jaden! I’m slightly jealous- I can’t have farm animals in my community, even though we have almost 4 acres! Have fun with the little chicks, and enjoy those super fresh eggs when the hens start laying them!

  30. ashley — 8/19/11 @ 2:44 pm

    we have two araucanas…aerie and cuna and have learned soooo much in the past 16 months. our biggest challenge has been keeping them safe from hawks while they are foraging. we have gotten very creative keeping them protected! overall, best experience ever! good luck!

  31. Veronica — 8/19/11 @ 4:22 pm

    I’ve been raising chicks for a while, and I can tell you it’s a whole lot of fun! When they start to lay, it will be teeny tiny eggs that are super-cute. I have red sex-links and Blue/Buff Orpingtons. Tip- the eggs from sex linked are good for everything but hard-boiling. They fall apart when you peel them. Much better for boiling eggs are Rhode Islands or Orpingtons. I don’t know why, but that’s been my experience. Good luck!

  32. Congratulations on the new chicks! I hope you will post frequently about them so all of us who are toying with the idea of getting chickens can learn from your successes and mistakes.

  33. Phyllis — 8/20/11 @ 5:32 pm

    Have fun with your new little peeps! So cute but little for such a short time. We started with chicks too. 4 years later and my kids still love going in their coop/run to pick them up and cuddle them. They come when called too. No chicken stew for us.

    One tip: when designing your coop (where they sleep at night) and run (the area they get to run around freely), keep predators and pesky rodents in mind. Easiest is usually an enclosed floor dug 8-12 inches below the surface and filled in with stuff (pine shavings or sand) for the chickes to dig and fluff and scratch in. By far this “deep litter” method is the easiest and nose friendly method we have found! A shoveling out bi-annually is all that is needed.

    Good Luck!

  34. Christy Clark — 8/20/11 @ 6:34 pm

    Very cute chicks. I vote Eva, Deva, Bertha and Heloise.

  35. Simone — 8/21/11 @ 4:18 am

    They are so cute!! I would love to have a few chicks but there is really no space here. I particularly love Oreo. I mean he looks exactly like an Oreo cookie. Too cute!

  36. Marna — 8/24/11 @ 8:32 am

    Very cute; I hope you didn’t end up with all roosters!!!

  37. They are so adorable! You and the boys will have so much fun (and learn so much) in raising them.
    Some friends and I started raising chickens this year in May. Like you, we covered their first home with a screen. Then we built a big coop in my friend’s back yard.
    We started with 7 “girls” in May and then 6 weeks later got 8 more. The Ameracaunas are my favorite, their coloring is so beautiful once they get big.
    My advice; handle them as much as possible. They get used to it and this will make things much easier for you later on. Plus, they actually seem to like the affection.
    We just started getting the very first eggs. They are *very* small, but we’re all SO excited!
    I decided the girls needed a blog of their own so we could chronicle their adventures and our (mis)adventures in raising them and building the big coop which we called “The Parthenon of Peeps.” You can see it at http://www.mountroyalfarms.com
    Have fun with your chicks!

  38. Whitewuf — 8/24/11 @ 11:14 am

    Coco is going to have chicken dinner….

  39. Janet in Maine — 8/24/11 @ 12:41 pm

    I didn’t notice if anyone previously mentioned this to you but…unless those chicks were “sexed” you may not have all female chicks (pullets). Even when they are “sexed”, the sexer can be wrong. It is difficult to sex very young chicks. It will be interesting to see what you end up with though. And I applaud you for letting your kids have chickens. They are a very fun pet. There is nothing like collecting eggs. It’s like a daily easter egg hunt which never gets old. Even at my age. We have over 40 chickens (along with turkeys, guineas, geese, etc.) Also, just an fyi…but in the future if you do get more than one rooster out of your group it is generally not good to keep more than one. They really don’t get along and they can get pretty intense. If that happens, decide on which one to keep by the way it interacts with your boys. Roosters are notoriously nasty with kids but not all breeds or all roosters. You just have to watch them. You have much to learn but it is all easy and very fun. Lots of good books are out there now. And the backyard chickens web site is wonderful. CONGRATULATIONS. P.S. The fresh eggs are to die for.

    • SteamyKitchen — 8/25/11 @ 8:59 am

      Janet – wow 40 chickens!! Thanks for all the advice – we’re learning everyday. Today we went outside and saw red ants in the coop – hoping that they don’t bite the chicks. I know the chicks will eat the ants, but these red ants can be pretty nasty.

  40. Jee — 8/24/11 @ 11:17 pm

    Oooooh how fun!!! Please update often about your chicks!!!
    They are all so cuddly and cute… I used to buy one every spring in front of our elementary school… (in Korea, these old ladies would come sell chicks to little kids…super cheap but they would usually be sick ones that were not wanted on the farms…so they rarely made it and would die soon after they found new homes… my mom hated it when I couldn’t resist and brought them home – I think I was about 7 or 8 when I started buying them – because she knew she would have to deal with a dead chick on her hands sooner or later. She likes animals…just can’t stand them dying on her so we’ve never really had “pets”) anyway we ended up actually taking extra good care of one of them and he/she got healthy and grew up to be a chicken!! :) We lived in an apartment though and my mom gave it (can’t remember if “it” was a hen or rooster) away to a friend who owned a farm. I don’t think we ever got eggs out of it but it was a super fun experience!!! Hope your boys enjoy it as much as I did when I was a kid. ;)

  41. Kim Bee — 8/25/11 @ 10:56 am

    I love that you came home with these. I also cracked up over your ponderings of how to explain to your hubby. Your solution of letting him name one was perfect. When we got our kitten hubs kept saying we don’t need another kitten, repeatedly. A week later I came home to find them napping together. Lol! I look forward to seeing these ladies grow. I love the pics with the dog. So adorable.

  42. Oh my goodness, Coco is a saint!

  43. Casey — 8/27/11 @ 11:10 am

    How fun! I’m jealous of the eggs you’ll have!

  44. Maryann — 8/28/11 @ 4:52 pm

    I would name that chick Ms.T—she has a mohawk! Good luck with them. Remember, any animal will do things you could not imagine if you imagined for 1000 years. They constantly surprise humans.

  45. We have 4 feathers girls and 2 are ameracaunas. My 3 year old named them: HeartKiss, I Love You, Ice Cream, and Cookie :) They’re 4 months old and I can’t wait for those blue eggs!

  46. Michelle — 10/13/11 @ 7:09 pm

    Chickens are so cool! We have a large property and we have 15 chickens. They are so fun to watch. They also are great for eating the mosquitoes that are so bad in our area. Yet our yard isn’t bad while all the neighbors have them so bad they can barely be outside.
    And the fertilizer is great for the garden. We had some of the chickens in a chicken tractor, in a couple of spots in the garden, for a couple of weeks at a time. The plants in those areas were HUGE compaired with the rest of the garden, produced more and are withstanding the cold Fall temps much better too!

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