They’re here! After years of hoping and months of anticipation, chicks are in the house! I am actually writing this while sitting next to the little peepers on a folding chair in the garage. I cannot pull myself away from them.
I actually thought we missed the shipment yesterday since I didn’t get a shipping confirmation and the order acknowledgement said they could arrive Tuesday through Thursday so I sent the kids off to school and moved on with my day.
At 10:30, the phone rang and a post office employee barely identified herself before the realization hit me. “Do you have chicks?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “We’d like you to come as soon as possible because they are quite loud.” This has been almost ten years in the making so when I recognized that this was actually going down, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I cried.
I raced to the garage to reassess my setup. Yesterday, after tinkering with the heat lamp and monitoring the temperature, I decided that the box I had inside of the orange crate was too small, not allowing enough room for them to move away from the heat lamp if it got too warm. My husband kindly taped a big section of cardboard into place to section off the crate until they’re a little older and need more space.
I added water to the two gallon water pail and hung it in place. Then I filled the chick feeder with starter food. I placed newspaper on the bottom of the orange crate we’re using for their temporary housing and added paper towels on top of that to help them grip and get their bearings.
With the heat lamp heating up, I made the short drive to the post office where the sound of peeps was all you could hear when the sliding doors opened. Of course, this close to tax day, there was a line. Everyone in line seemed to need to mention the sound of the chicks and when I finally got my turn and announced the reason for my visit, the kind clerk turned around to where they were keeping the box safely at hand, away from any danger, and presented me with my eight little peepers. I had tears in my eyes and it seemed everyone there was laughing.
I gingerly drove home to find the heat lamp at a balmy 95 degrees- perfect. I carefully removed the lid from the peeping box and found my eight little gems huddled together in a corner looking at me wearily. I lifted each chick from the box, checked her vent for pasty butt and then tapped her beak onto the nipple of the watering pail. I wasn’t convinced that they understood the concept so I placed a shallow bowl with marbles in the box and added water but I ended up removing it shortly thereafter because the chicks made their way back to the water pail and began pecking at the nipples, releasing water droplets. Smart girls!
Since that went so well, I took each chick over to the feeder and before I knew it, eating and drinking ensued in the manner you’d expect of a hungry newborn after a day of travel and the stress associated with that. I’ve taken too many pictures of essentially the same view: chicks being chicks but that’s just part of the fun.
It is so endearing to hear their little peeps and watch their interactions with one another. When one finds something of interest, a kernel of feed mind you, not unlike the thousands of others in the feeder, they all race over to investigate. The water pail has three nipples on the bottom to disperse water on demand yet once a chick pecks at one and releases water, that’s the only one of interest and they gather around like kids in a line, pushing each other out of the way to access that very nipple when two others are available. Just like a toddler, they happily wander around, then suddenly drop and fall asleep. That is, until someone steps on their head, bumps them or disturbs them in some other abrupt manner. They are demonstrating the epitome of cat napping, with less than one minute intervals of shut eye. So stinking cute!
I really need to tear myself away from here, specifically to check on my bees since it’s sunny and 60 degrees here today, and to begin spreading the five yards of mulch I had delivered, but I think I can spare a few more minutes after such a long wait. Besides, they are in need of a mother hen and I think I’m up for the challenge!