I mean, seriously, is there anything cuter than baby farm animals? So the three ladies of leisure in the chicken yard seemed to get the memo that it was time to start laying some eggs again, maybe they heard us talking about bringing in chicks and got a little worried. For whatever reason, all three of them started laying again in the last 2 weeks – which is amazing! Even the super expensive, pastured raised eggs at the market just couldn’t come close to the incredible, rich, orange yolked eggs that my girls had been laying pretty regularly up until October of last year. In case you didn’t know, chickens don’t lay much during the winter; it has to do with the amount of daylight they get. We made the decision early on not to supplement their light in the winter (a common trick to keep them laying year round) and to instead allow nature’s schedule to dictate their laying habits. This has, however, been the first winter where NO eggs happened. Well, I’m happy to say we made it through, even though we had to purchase eggs elsewhere for a few months.
The egg-citing (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) part is that we went ahead and got a new batch of baby chicks last weekend so that we can ensure our egg supply will continue for the years to come. We have found (in our limited experience of chicken keeping the last 4 years) that the hens we had that were raised from day olds are far more friendly and trusting than those we purchased as “teenagers” – we love watching their antics and it’s so much more enjoyable when they don’t run away from you when you come close! So, chicks. I put together a chick brooder from a 106 gallon storage tote (there are loads of tutorials all over the web about how to do this) and worried a great deal about using a heat lamp (although this is what we used last time we raised chicks, it’s really quite scary to have one of those in your house!) so I bit the bullet and purchased a Brinsea Ecoglow 20, knowing that it will likely pay for itself eventually (it uses a fraction of the electricity that a heat lamp does). The Ecoglow mimics the warmth of the mama hen by giving the chicks a nice warm “mama” to cuddle up under and keeps them safe (and the house) by only giving off the warmth needed to maintain their heat needs. Honestly, you can touch the heat source, it’s very warm but certainly not hot enough to burn or ignite the wood shavings. The chicks have LOVED it! Another pleasant side effect I’ve read from other’s experiences is that the chicks get very used to the rhythms of natural daylight so they sleep under the Ecoglow all night and are active in the brooder the majority of the day. I have found this to be true, as well.
So, anyway, back to the chicks! We came home with them on Saturday of last weekend – I believe they were 2 days old at that point. Here were are, 8 days later, and I swear they have doubled in size! We’ll be moving them out of the brooder probably next weekend to our secondary set up which is basically an extra large dog kennel that we have reinforced with hardwire cloth (since they would be able to fit in between the bars). But really, I’m sure all you care about is seeing how adorable they are so…. here you go!!!
They are just so darn cute! But loud and they make a huge mess. But it will all be worth it later 🙂