Forgive me Father, it has been longer than I can remember since I updated the DaisyPatch Farm. It is mostly because I am tired, with a little bit of lazy thrown in. Now isn’t the best time to be blogging about gardens, but I will do soooo, now. No, now. Ok, now.
Here’s the latest. Chick-a-dee-dees arrive sometime next week. We have finally decided on what we are going to use for their brooder box and where we’re going to locate it. The brooder box, for those of you who do not know, is going to be their halfway house between hatching and living in the coop. They won’t have a mama chicken to sit on top of them and keep them warm in a coop and so we have to set something up to keep them warm, safe and draft-free. Mama chickens brood over their chicks, hence…Brooder Box. We need to sort of imitate the warm conditions of mama’s underside, (and there is no way in hell I am going to sit on 7 chicks until they’re big enough to go outside, so we have to come up with another option. I guess I could stuff them in my bra, maybe that center part between the ta-tas, but I think I could only fit one at a time and so the others would be chilly in the meanwhile, so that is out of the question.) We are going to use a large plastic storage container. When they get a bit bigger, we have the cardboard box the compost tumbler came in, so that would be a good size to graduate them to (to which to graduate them. No one uses, “wherefore” and “to which” and “for whom” anymore, so it seems a bit odd to actually use correct grammar, however, I was an English major for a semester, so, “for whom” stays.)
Anyhoo, brooder box. Done. Starter food. Purchased. Wood shavings (essentially, chicken litter). Done. Special chick water dish so they don’t drown. Done. Special feeder to discourage pooping in their food. Done. Heat lamp. Yup. Let me explain the heat lamp. Mama chickens keep the chicks warm in their early days of life. We are RIPPING these little chicks away from their mamas, as they will be arriving as one-day-old chicks, so we need to be sure these little babies stay nice and toasty and, you know, alive. So, we have a red heat lamp that we will chain up from the ceiling to hang over the brooder box. Chickies need to be in a 95 degree area for their first week of life, then the temperature can be dropped by 5 degrees each week until their brooder box temperature matches the outside temperature at which time, they can be safely moved outside to their coop. During nice days, we can bring them outside to get acquainted with the coop and peck on the ground a bit, but they’ll need to be supervised to keep Mr. Cooper (hawk) away as well as any other lurking predators (like Big Red, the fox, whom we’ve seen (hey, a chance to use, “whom.” Sweet.) hanging out in the field across the street.) So, this is the reason mid-April is the perfect time for the little cluckers to arrive because by the time they’re ready to move outside, the temperature will be, not too cold, not too warm, but goldilocks juuuust right.
So that doesn’t seem so bad, right? Put ‘em in a box and keep ‘em warm until they move outside. Here’s the kicker. We have cats. Three of them. Within a few weeks, the little chicks will be able to hop. Up. To the top of the box maybe. I also can’t see that there’s any chance in hell Peber will NOT try to check these little guys out. So, what’s a just-starting-out-with-chickens-homesteader to do about this? Improvise. Keith plans to bend some chicken wire to sort of lay over the bin to keep the little peckers in and Peber out. You know what I foresee? I foresee Peber laying on top of that chicken wire and just watching the chicks. Just watching. Mark my words. I’ll take pictures if it happens.
We also want to introduce Daisy to them early on. They’ll be in the basement (I understand they kick up a lot of dust and I’d really like to keep that contained to the non-living section of our living quarters.) and Daisy doesn’t go into the basement (she will not step foot on the basement stairs for some reason) so we’ll have to bring them up to see her. I’ll be fascinated to see her response. We’ll try to get it on film. I do NOT want any bets about whether she’ll kill it. That just doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy. I have visions of Daisy the bulldog walking across the lawn, herding her little flock of fluffy chickens, poking one with her nose when it gets too far behind and acting like a proud mama when they do something chickeny. I am sure the reality will be that I end up screaming in panic while trying to give her the heimlich so she’ll choke up Henrietta after trying to swallow her without chewing. Wish us luck.