A week ago, our baby chicks looked like this. They were insanely cute little fluff-butts.
In seven days, they've grown tremendously The chicks have sprouted actual chicken feathers. Their fluffy baby-down is almost all gone.
When I look back at the blog, I see that we got our first set of chicks back in March of 2012. (Click here for baby pictures.) Because it was early spring and too cold to allow the chicks outside, we raised that batch of chicks in a well-heated cardboard box in our garage. The current batch of chicks have spent the better part of their lives outside, right from the start. The weather is great, and the chicks are thriving.
Both Robb and I think that these chicks are benefiting from being in an environment where they have something to do. These chicks have been foraging for food since we got them. They eat grass, and have little chicken adventures, climbing all over the place.
One of the reasons we got chickens in the first place was because we thought they might eat the snails that over-run our garden. Our original chickens are so dumb, that I've had to teach them to eat snails. And if I don't hand feed them snails for a few weeks, they forget all about the fact that snails are edible, and have to be taught all over again.
These two girls are freaking geniuses in comparison to our older hens. I did not have to teach them to eat grass or bugs. They figured it out all by themselves.
The chick on the right has a massive grub in her mouth. She and her sister played a spirited game of "keep away" before she swallowed it whole. (They've been eating lots of dirt, so I trust that she's got enough grit in her gizzard to handle her meal.)
I think these girls have such an advantage, having been raised outside. Our older hens did not learn how to be chickens, growing up in a cardboard box. They learned to eat chicken feed, and that's about it. I wasn't kidding when I say that I had to teach our first group to eat grass.
That's what a poor educational environment will do to a developing chicken brain, I guess.
In addition to being good foragers, these two chickens are quite strongly bonded. They really stick together. They climb together, they run around together, they nap together. If one institutes a new activity, the other adopts it right away. The chickens are crazy high-jumpers, and we realize that we've got to fortify our garden fences.
Possibly the most charming thing they do after trying out a new activity is their celebratory chest bumping. It's like a chicken version of a high-five. Adorable. Let's just hope that this isn't a behavior unique to baby roosters. Feisty pullets are delightful. Feisty roosters are illegal where we live, and a tragedy for two tender-hearted vegetarians.
If you're curious to see what other gardeners are writing about, click here.