Tag Archives: raising chicks

Uncertain Times

My life was a bit on the frantic side until last March. The pandemic arrived bringing uncertain times with it. My life went on hold – sort of.

Anyone with livestock, especially dairy stock, knows life never goes on hold. Chore time arrives every morning and every evening. Nubians are very insistent and vocal about that.

Kids were arriving. Now that does bring uncertain times. There may be a due date, but kids don’t pay much attention. The does don’t either as Natasha is still getting fatter, putting down milk in dribs and drabs and calmly chewing her cud.

Nubian wether kid cheers up uncertain times
Nubian doe High Reaches Agate had a single buck kid this April.

Spring barn cleaning time also arrived. The goats were extra wasteful over the winter so this has been a maddening task. It’s one of those tasks you work on and work on seemingly getting no where until it is done. Maybe next week will see the last of it out to the manure pile.

Baby chicks arrived. The order did have a hatch date. Uncertain times then take over as they might arrive the next day or the next or? They arrived the next day along with a massive cold front.

Baby chicks are not good house guests. They are accompanied by noise, dust and odors. The noise isn’t a problem. The others aren’t supposed to be, but always are as cleaning the box up never seems to keep up.

baby chicks arrive in uncertain times and weather
The first day I opened the outside door for the chicks they stood at the edge and looked. Not one came out. They now have feathers and fly out the door as soon as I open it. The two in front are Easter Eggers. The ones behind are Buff Orpingtons.

My frantic life? It’s on hold still. I visited town once a week. The library was closed so the computers were not accessible. Errands for three days were crammed into one.

I now own a laptop. We are getting acquainted. I’m planning on town two days a week now so I have enough time to do more than turn it on.

My Missouri county has no official cases of Covid-19. Then again I hear from a reliable source the virus arrived in the area last December when no one knew what it was. No one will ever really know.

Uncertain times did have a good side to them. My frantic life has slowed down. It’s wonderful to have time to enjoy being home even if the drudgery work looms.

Chicks Become Pullets

When do chicks become pullets? I really don’t know for sure.

Chicks are these balls of fluff. They quickly grow wing and tail feathers. Body feathers push their way out. The fluff disappears as dust.

Not all of the fluff disappears. Some is persistent. The feathered out chicks have these ragged bits of fluff sticking out in odd places.

These chicks are still chicks. They are small and peep. They still like a bit of heat at night.

feathered out Barred Rock chick
Barred Rocks are an active chicken breed. They love to go exploring looking for greens and bugs to eat.

Once chicks have feathers, staying inside is not popular. Rainy days keep mine inside. They sit up on anything tall to look out the windows in the door.

Sunny days are a delight. The bottom door opens and a new world stretches out in front of these chicks. The chicks line the door sill, heads and necks twisting and turning as they look around.

feathered out Speckled Sussex chick
Most chicks I’ve raised before have small tails of a group of feathers. Speckled Sussex have a fan of separate feathers. The chicks are friendly and love going bug hunting. Some take cutworms out of my fingers. Cabbage worms are also relished. They are not allowed in the cabbage patch as they probably like cabbage too.

By the second day the chicks are waiting for their door to open. They generally stay inside as I fill feed trays, but don’t stay there long. Grass is much superior to chick feed.

A week later I make sure I am not standing in front of the chick door when I open it. Twenty-two feathery bullets shoot out. The chick yard is too small.

There was a time when I would let older chicks out into the grass. Grey foxes now live across the street. Quarter grown chicks are snack size.

Now I put up a ring of chicken wire. The chicks come out into a larger yard only when I am working close by. Moveable electric fence posts make moving the wire into different shapes and areas easy.

Now six weeks old have my chicks become pullets? They are almost half grown. They fly across their yard. They chase bugs as well as eat grass.

chicks become pullets eating chickweed to grow faster
Chickweed is a good wild green in the early spring. It is now time to get it out of the garden. The chicks enjoy helping as the seed heads and leaves are popular snacks. They are just the right size for the chicks on the verge of becoming pullets.

These birds still peep. I think they are still chicks.

In another week or two, these pint sized chickens will start clucking. They will not be happy in the larger yard. Already they cast longing eyes at my garden. There is an invisible “Chickens Keep Out” sign, except they can’t read.

I think my chicks become pullets when they start clucking.

Chicks Grow Up Fast

My chicks arrived two weeks ago. They were little balls of fluff. Chicks grow fast.

Now those balls of fluff have tiny tails and wings. They love to race across the floor flapping their wings. They can’t get off the ground yet.

These pullets are a tough bunch. My chick house has no insulation. The walls are wood covered with metal. There are plenty of air leaks. The outside temperature is the inside temperature.

chicks grow and need less heat

Different breeds of chickens look very different. I like lots of them and have several breeds in my flock. There are four kinds of pullets.
The black ones are barred rocks. The plain buff feathers are buff Orpingtons. The brown with black bars feathers are New Hampshire. The chicks with cheek puffs are Easter Eggers who grow up to lay blue and green eggs. By three weeks of age almost all of the fluff will be gone and the pullets will become gangling adolescents.

The chicks huddled under their light when the temperatures plunged. Even with blankets wrapped around the cage, they were cool.

Well, one night I put an extra blanket on and they got too hot.

Chicks grow up fast. They don’t need a hot heat lamp now. Their feathers keep them warm. And they have doubled in size. Besides, the temperatures are approaching normal spring ranges.

Hazel is raising chicks in Mistaken Promises. Grandfather talked about chickens and fresh eggs until she thought it would be fun. After committing herself by talking Lily into joining the 4-H Poultry Project with her, she discovered the work.

Chickens are one of the easier ways to be a country person. Depending on the breed and standard or bantam, chickens can be kept in a small area. With handling many breeds can become pets.

chicks grow feathers fast

Ball of fluff chicks are cute. Larger chicks feathering out look disheveled. This is when they produce lots of dust. This is a Buff Orpington pullet chick like those Hazel Whitmore is raising in Mistaken Promises.

Hazel and Lily have Buff Orpingtons. These are one of the breeds easy to make into pets. The hens are a golden buff color. Their feathers are fluffy. They are docile and calm.

Grandfather built Hazel’s chicken house years before for his wife Helen. He built a sturdy building. He had a nice brooder hood. Hazel’s chicks lived in style.

I’m jealous.

County fairs in rural Missouri are the place for 4-H members to exhibit their livestock and crafts. Hazel will show her pullets at the county fair. But Hazel is being stalked by one who hates her and all around her. And that person is at the fair too.

Mistaken Promises is the third in the Hazel Whitmore middle grade series. It will be release this fall. The first two, Broken Promises and Old Promises, are available now.