An Eggsciting Day!

On Saturday we were preparing ourselves to hear the culmination of a year of piano torture, otherwise known as The Recital.  I must confess I was saddened that David wasn’t performing. I have always enjoyed hearing him play, but he humbly asked to “finish” piano lessons a few months ago, and after much discussion we agreed, though not without regret. We decided to increase Grace’s lesson to a full hour and have Victoria begin lessons. Now they all think they can “finish” when they are 13, but we will play that one by ear, so to speak. 

Everyone performed with gusto. The piano teacher arranged to have her students play in age order, which meant Victoria played first. It also meant she did not have the benefit of watching anyone else, but she is so adorable, no one held it against her when she finished her piece, bowed, then parachuted off center stage in her flouncy dress on her way back to her seat. Thankfully everyone else exited stage right and used the stairs. They all got trophies for endurance. These were just for sticking with it for a whole year. Many students went the extra mile and entered competitions throughout the year and received their rewards in public, but we were not that motivated. Only Grace participated in a music festival and has a grade to show for it, but no trophies for that event. 

The really exciting part of the evening came after the performances, refreshments, and multiple trips to the restrooms. A mere fifteen minutes before we loaded up the van and headed to the recital, we received a phone call from the airport post office notifying us that our livestock had arrived. We were not expecting them until Monday at the earliest. Thankfully we had made arrangements on the farm that very day, so we were ready! We could have waited until Monday when our local post office got the shipment and called us, but when Mike found out the airport PO would be open until midnight, and that we would already be halfway there after the recital, we decided to bring those babies home. 

Here they are, cheeping in the box they arrived in; twenty seven baby chicks, less than one day old. By the time we got back to the cottage, it was close to 10:30 and most of the little people had conked out. We tucked some of them in, and some just went to bed in their clothes. Then we tucked the chickens in. My friend who gives us the horse manure also gave me this old wooden box she found on her property that someone used to grow worms in. For bait, I guess. We hauled it into the garage, set it on Mike’s workbench, added a layer of pine shavings, a feeder, waterer, and heat lamp, and it turned into a budget chicken brooder. The first thing we had to do was teach all the chicks how to drink water, since they had never done this before. All we had to do was dip their beaks in the water and they got the idea. We covered the pine shavings with paper towels the first day, because they are such bird brains they will eat the shavings instead of their chick food. 

David was the only one able to help us settle the chicks in the first night, but they were a popular attraction the next morning. Even Chance wanted to see what was going on inside that big box. 

We have had the chicks two days now and all is well. The boys and I did a bit of remodeling in the chicken coop, to ready it for its new tenants. The nice thing about building a coop is you can just use what you have and no skills are needed except imagination. When it got cold in December, we built walls out of stacked hay bales for the three surviving chickens. This worked great, keeping the wind out and the price down. Here is what we had, though all the hay is not stacked up yet in this picture. I had two more bales on the left, one of them going across the doorway. 

Today we expanded the living area by bumping out the hay bales and adding scrap wood side walls. Later we went back in and inserted a piece of wood between two hunks of hay in the doorway and put that hay in the middle on top of it. It makes a chicken sized doorway, which is essential. I thought Penny could just hop over the hay on the ground, but she wandered around the chicken yard for hours, lost, until we made this modification. It was so sad, because her food and water were inside. Indoor plumbing! Wow.

We had three chickens until very recently. Penny faithfully leaves eggs in her favorite nesting box six days a week. Puny never did grow to full size. Somehow she broke her toe and after that she just hopped about on one foot, unable to work. She never did lay an egg. Then despite her diminutive size, her comb and wattles began to look suspiciously roostery. But she/he was too smart to crow. We kept her as a charity case almost a whole year. However, she would not give Lucky the time of day, nor anything else. Lucky took his frustrations out on Penny, our favorite and only egg supplier.  Lucky was a young rooster with enough wild oats for a harem. When we noticed his frequent attentions were ripping the feathers off of Penny’s back, we realized we would have to step in. I doubt he was trying to be mean, but with only one hen to quell his insatiable drive... well, let’s just say Penny was going to go bald. The boys did the dirty job, and we were down to one lonely, half naked chicken. 

The chicks will be able to keep Penny company in about a month. Let’s just hope we only end up with one rooster this time. In about six months we could have over a hundred eggs per week. I think we are going to have to share. I hope Ms. Betty likes omelets!

© Being Fruitful, 2012