Oh hello blog! I've neglected you terribly. But there's nothing like a fresh start. In fact, the only thing better than a fresh start is a fresh start with fluffy baby chicks.
On Friday, I picked up the two baby chicks that Robb had ordered from BioFuel Oasis in Berkeley. They were hatched at Belt Hatchery in Fresno on Wednesday.
Is anything cuter than three-day-old chicks?
Robb and I ordered sex linked chicks, which are a hybrid two differently colored breeds of chickens. Because roosters carry two genes for coloration, while hens only carry one, this crossing produces chicks who have markedly different colors depending on their gender.
Hopefully, this will mean that we didn't bring home any accidental roosters.
I picked the sassiest pair of chicks in the store, because I hoped that they'd be the healthiest and smartest.
Chickens are not known for their intelligence, but we've got one particularly dim-witted hen in our adult flock. Our most foolish hen (Lydia) is also the most picked on, the most neurotic, and a remarkably incompetent eater. I think her lack of brain has made her life harder than it could have been.
These two chicks have two speeds at the moment: Zoom and Crash. The transition between these two states is instantaneous, which is pretty amusing. One minute, they're chatting away, exploring their new home, and within seconds, they're completely asleep.
Robb made this brooder box out of a large plastic tub. He cut a hole in its lid, and covered that opening with hardware cloth. He used some of my stash of ostrich feathers to make a fake mother hen. We learned this trick when we were volunteering at a wild bird rehab center. Baby birds seem to do better if they have a feather duster to nestle under.
This little girl is now four days old. Let's all take a moment to marvel at chicken eyelashes.
It's quite remarkable how relaxed these girls are. They're not afraid of us at all. (We'll see how long this lasts...)
Chicks grow at an astonishing rate. These two already have some adult wing feathers growing in. The adorable fluffy-butt phase of their lives doesn't last long. They turn into gawky adolescents in the blink of an eye.
In case you're wondering why we decided to get new babies right now, it's because our older hens have all hit henopause, and aren't laying eggs anymore. Considering that we got the first batch in 2012, and then added two more in 2014, that's not really surprising. Hens lay fewer and fewer eggs every year, and in chicken terms, our flock is a bunch of old ladies.
We opted to get the new birds relatively late in the season so that they'd be mature enough to start laying eggs in the spring.
Chicks have long been used as a metaphor for rebirth and renewal, and I think we could all use a bit of that energy right now.