By Jenny Brown
Something wasn’t quite right. A sound was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it. The kids have been home from school this week; it’s not exactly quiet. Then it dawned on me…every year since we moved into this house there have been little peeps in our home at this time of year!
This was the first year we did not need to order chicks. We raised heritage Delawares last year for meat and we were not overly impressed with their size so we kept some of them for laying hens. This spring there will not be an exciting mail delivery of layer hen chicks.
The Brown home without baby chicks! It just didn’t seem natural. Outside the snow had already been accumulating but I knew Big R had just gotten in their latest shipment from Dunlap Hatchery. “Boys, Should we go pick out a few baby chicks?” My previously bored 9 year old’s eyes suddenly lit up with excitement. We all hopped into the Prius with a cooler of frozen beef organ meat that I needed to drop off at the butcher to be ground up for dog food and away we went out in the white weather to buy some chicks.
This was a new experience for us. Our chick orders have always been direct purchases from chicken hatcheries and anywhere from 50-200 birds at a time. I felt like we were part of the normal world today, hand picking out our chicks in the single digits.
The adorable silky chickens caught our eye but as cute as they are, they do not fit into our farm plan. Silkies are not good layers and our farm animals must be good providers, not just moochers or yard ornaments. We decided to get six Araucanas to add a splash of color to our egg basket. I was disappointed to find out they were not straight Araucanas, they were an Araucana-Americana cross. I am hoping to breed my birds and I want to stick with straight heritage breeds but my 9 year old was so happy, and I knew the addition of blue and green eggs would bring new excitement to his egg gathering. How could I say no? These six chicks will just have to be an anomaly to our flock.
We got home and I managed to have a brooder set-up ready in a matter of minutes (something I tell my students NOT to do but I have been through this enough times and with only six chicks it was unusually easy).
These six little little peeps may even get names…something my kids haven’t really given much thought to. It’s pretty hard to single out a chick when you have 50 – 200 of the same kind. Things seem right at our home now. We once again have little cheeping sounds in the background noise, albeit a little less this year, and a bright-eyed 9 year old who just had his boyish love of farm life rekindled.