I understand the concept of chicken math. It’s very amusing. I, however, am not one of those weak-willed people. I have strength of purpose. I am a planner. I do not make important decisions spontaneously.
Yes, we had originally planned that 1.0 would comprise six chicks, not twelve, but that was The Man’s spurt of spontaneity, not mine. Did we get more last year after the twelve? We did not. Did I get two to replace the ones I lost? I did not.
And, yes, it was I who fought for more chicks this spring, and for turkeys, as well. But we discussed six chicks, we agreed on six chicks, and I brought home six chicks, exactly as planned.
I am not one of those people who goes into the hardware store for dog food and comes out with chicks.
I have always wanted Easter Eggers. Easter Eggers are mutts, cross bred to Ameraucanas and Araucanas, which are pure breeds laying gorgeous blue eggs. Easter Eggers can lay eggs anywhere from green to blue, even pink. There’s no knowing which colour an Easter Egger pullet will lay until she, you know, lays, but that is the colour she will lay all her life, in varying degrees of intensity.
Green eggs! Did you hear me??!! GREEN EGGS!!!
Unlike other breeds, Easter Eggers can have just about any feather colouration. The do have the characteristic beards of their blue-egg-laying cousins, however.
I’ve wanted some in my flock from the start, but Chicken Debbie has thwarted my desires. You see, Chicken Debbie gets the Easter Eggers in on their own special day, in mid-May, four weeks after chicks begin arriving at Agway. No other breeds, just Easter Eggers. So, if I wanted a mixed flock, I could brood twice, or go without Easter Eggers.
Last year, I chose the latter option. I just didn’t want a flock of Easter Eggers; I wanted a few. (They’re not known for prolific egg production.) And, this year, I really wanted Australorps, so I made the same decision. If I had decided to get Easter Eggers this spring, I would have had to buy six, and I would have had to wait another month. Non posso. Non è possibile.
So, I call Debbie this morning to discuss the new brand of grain-free dog food she’s getting into the store now that Diamond has had yet another recall and I’ve been feeding Taste of the Wild, and then it hits me.
“It’s Friday. You have the Easter Eggers in today, don’t you?”
“Got any that are unspoken for?”
“Hmmm. Oh, well, I can’t take six more so…”
“You’ve already bought six this year; I can let you have two or three. Whatever you want.”
You know what happened next, right?
I went immediately out the the coop and sussed out the situation. The gazebo is huge, and 2.0 is spending less and less time in it, between coop recess and outside recess. If I could subdivide it somehow…
And we’re off. The gazebo has been subdivided, and is outfitted with Brinsea, water, feed and overhead light/heat. The netting has been redraped to protect the new babies from 2.0 and 1.0.
And, so, without further ado, gentle reader, I give you…2.1:
I chose three from a bin of wildly different-looking chicks, all Easter Eggers. The way a chick looks is little indication of how she will look as a hen, of course, but I was assured that, if they looked different as chicks, they’d look different as hens. Debbie also told me that the ones with lilac/blue patches on their heads and backs were purported to be blues. Ooooo, bloooooos. That’s a magic word for me.
I chose a girl with lilac patches (the cheeky monkey in the third pic, above), one with dark grey-blue patches (the one to the right in the first pic), and a chipmunky one.
They are so small. I know I’ve become accustomed to 2.0’s nuclear growth rate, but these seem smaller and less developed than 2.0 on Day One. They have very little in the way of primary wing feathers, for example, and they still have their egg teeth (the light-coloured hook at the end of the beak, used to break through the egg). They seem sleepier and shakier on their pins than 2.0 was on Day One, as well.
It could be they are just a day younger than 2.0 was the day I brought them home; that’s all it takes to make a difference.
I was concerned when I got them into their brooder. I dipped their beaks in water and snuggled them into the Brinsea. The promptly fell silent and stayed there. Now, silent is good, but…for how long? I know they’d had an awfully tough first 24-72 hours of life, but…a girl’s gotta eat, right?!
After half an hour, I decided to force the issue. I was able to get two of them to eat and drink, but the dark blue girl was just so sleepy. I was becoming concerned. When she turned her bum to me, I saw this:
The bin of chicks at Agway had lots of green dots on the shavings, and on the chicks themselves. When I asked Debbie about it, she said there had been a green bell of food for the chicks to eat in shipping, and they had rolled around in it. It seems that this little girl had sat in a blob of it, and it had dried.
Upon closer inspection, I became certain the hardened gel was blocking her vent, but good. Applying my best tough love, I plucked out the down right over the vent area (ouch!). As soon as I could see her vent was clear, I left the rest of the green goo on her butt to work itself out. I put her back in the brooder, and she promptly pooped.
Phew! That’s a potential chick killer, right there. She’s been eating and drinking with the other two now, and has perked up considerably.
I have very small feed and water dishes for them; there are only three of them, after all. It follows, of course, that all three have decided to occupy the food dish, at the same time:
I’ll take raucous competition over food over the eerie silence any day.
So, there you have it. I broke it to The Man, and he was exceedingly gracious about it. I picked a good one. The Stepdaughters don’t know yet, and I expect much screeching when they get home at 4pm.
It’s official; I am certifiable.