I have a history of buying Christmas gifts early, hiding them, and forgetting where I hid them. I have also been known to buy gifts, hide them, forget about them, and buy more. My husband had a wonderful Christmas last year. And again 3 days later, when I found his original stash of presents! I have to stop trusting my memory.
Last night I put my favorite mug, filled with water, in to the microwave. I pushed 1 minutes, layed out a new Peach Pie flavored tea bag… and went to bed. I found my still closed tea bag on the counter in front of the microwave this morning, with a now cold mug of water inside. Oops. My steel cage of a memory has now dwindled to more of a strainer. Some things stick, but most pour through.
But there is one day of the year I NEVER forget! One day I look forward to for months, actually remember to prepare for the night before, and count down to with the kids. It’s CHICK DAY!!! The one day I am a slave to the US Postal Service, awaiting the one special phone call that will set me into action. Did you know you can set your phone to receive text messages from the USPS that notify you each time your package moves locations? I don’t love technology (I heart my flip phone), but I do like this!
I await chick season (late Jan/Feb through late Sept/Oct) like most kids count down to Christmas. I pour through the hatchery magazines, look at Youtube videos of flocks, and Google chicken breeds online. I memorize lay rates (yes, this fact I can recall), cold hardiness (I don’t heat my coop), cuddliness (I’m dying for a lap chicken), and talkativeness (I have close neighbors). All in the quest to find the perfect breed- or at least test drive as many kinds as Captain Schenanigans will let me!
Manchild and I arrived at the local post office before they even had a chance to call and say the chicks were there, thanks to the magical text messages. I gave the lady behind the counter my driver’s license, and she went in the back. I could hear the chicks cheeping before she rounded the corner to return. Always I good sign. I dread the day I arrive to pick up a silent box.
I reach in before we leave the counter and offer a begging Manchild a quick hold of a 3 oz black and white fluff ball. I offer the ladies behind the counter a chance to hold the chick (we are on theBaltimore City line, and my assumption that livestock interactions are limited around these parts proves true), but they shrink back. One admits that she’s afraid they might peck or hurt her. I’ve heard this before from people who have never been around chickens. I pop the chick back in the box and atempt to catch up with Manchild.
I set the box on the floor of the pasenger side of the truck, turn the heater on (even though Manchild and I are both in shorts), and head home. Once we arrive at the house I open the box, take out each chick and dip it’s beak in water. This shows it where to drink and encourages hydration. Then I place it in the brooder I set up with food, water, and a heat lamp. They are young enough to still have their egg tooth (a small point on top of the tip of their beaks). They use it to help peck their way out of the egg shell. It will fall off by tomorrow.
People always ask me how live chicks can ship in the mail. I explain that right before a chick hatches, it absorbs all the yolk from the egg (think placenta) into it’s stomach, and that energy supply gives it 24-48hrs before it needs external nutrition. As each chick finds the feeder, it begins to eat hungrily. They were in the mail for 2 days, and it shows. Usually I order from Ohio, but this time I ordered from MO, and it took 2 days instead of one. The birds are fine, but I’ll probably go back to ordering closer to home.
Shipping on 3-15 live chicks is about $36 at most hatcheries. The way I handle this is by contacting two of my other Chicken Friends, and ask if they want to split an order with me. Extra chicks will keep each other warm, and the shipping cost drops from $36 to $12 each when we split it 3 ways. I would pay that much in gas to drive to PA and get local chicks, which are generally unsexed. Not to mention the Maple Donuts my kids would be begging for. Thus, ordering chicks is a much healthier option for your kid’s teeth.
Anyway, today we meet the newest members of our family. A Buff Orpington belonging to Manchild, now named Spiderman. A Barnevelder named Batman, also Manchild’s. And a Silver Laced Cochin ( hoepfully a future cuddle chicken) belonging to Girlchild named Lavender. Girlchild has had a problem with every chick she named Rosie turning out to be a rooster (happened 4 times), so we have a ban on the name Rosie/Rosemary/Rose in this family.
Now for the fun part. Starting tomorrow, after every fuzzball has rested and re-couped from their trek through the mail, we will begin Socialization Boot Camp. This is way more fun than it sounds. We will handle the chicks as much as they can stand, gently and lovingly, and hope that one day they will return our affections and let us catch them in the yard and hold them at random. This is my ultimate goal for each hen I have ever owned. So far, my flock views me as the cafeteria lady who brings the snacks, followed by a miniature thug that scares the literal poop out of them. One day, though… I’ll be the mama of the flock, and all my hens will appreciate my loving efforts and affection. And, maybe on another day, not long after that, my kids will as well!
Batman is the brown one above her name, Lavender is the silver and black one closest to Batman, and Spiderman is the all yellow one with her face upward, drinking water.