Sunday, April 27, 2014

Growth Spurt

The chicks have been growing astonishingly fast. This week they sprouted tiny combs and their wing feathers and back feathers are starting to fill in. At the beginning of the week, they were a mix of fine chick down and big feather nubs. Now they have only a few wisps of their chick-fuzz left.

I took them outside for a while yesterday afternoon and again this morning, and was pleased to see that they are a lot more proficient at foraging than they were last week. This morning I raked some of the top layer of soil off one of our garden beds, and they rushed right in to find all the little worms and bugs lurking there. They are definitely learning to operate as a flock; no one strays too far from the rest of the group, or they are quick to sound the alarm. I only managed to get a couple of individual shots--here's one of Lucille that shows off her new barred plumage and a perfectly respectable set of tail feathers.

And here's one of Mathilda that shows her new jet-black chest feathers. Right now she's pretty mottled in color, but in time she should be entirely black. Not sure if she'll remain pied-billed, but I hope so.

Capitola and Nettie still hang out together--I think of them as "the cousins," since they tend to stick close to one another, and they both look so similar. Here they are venturing into some leaf litter in the back of the yard--that's Nettie in the lower left, Capitola in the upper right.  Note how much darker Capitola's feathers are coming in; she looks like she'll be at the brown end of the Rhode Island Red spectrum.

And here's Fanny, looking large and in charge, as she is wont to do. While the other birds will run toward me when I call, or come up to me when I reach out a hand, Fanny has not quite decided whether I'm trustworthy. So even though she came up to check out my phone, she was keeping a close eye on me.

Of course, as I said, everyone's happiest when they're all together.

With the marathon (and post-marathon recovery) yesterday, and rain this afternoon, we didn't do much work on the coop this weekend, but I'm hoping for more progress this week.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Meet the Girls!

So, it's been 10 days now since the chicks arrived. Last week they were little fluffballs, and this week they sprouted tail feathers and primary feathers and have started flapping around the brooder box.

This afternoon was lovely and warm, so I popped them into a bucket and carried them outside. Here they are, hanging out in the yard (daughter Jane took this photo, which she called a chicken-selfie):

The chicks seemed to have a great time, scratching in the dirt and foraging for sprouts and tiny insects. Even the chicken skeptics in my house had fun watching them and helping them practice their perching:

I took some individual photos of the chicks as well. Here's Capitola, our Rhode Island Red. She's a feisty little creature, really not afraid of much, although she looks fairly demure here:

Then there's Fanny, the Buff Orpington. She's the biggest of the group, and maybe a little pushy. This photo shows how she's already losing her chick-y down and growing real chicken feathers.

Next up, Lucille, our Barred Rock.  This photo doesn't show it very well, but she's already starting to grow her barred wing feathers.

Matilda, our little Australorp, seemed to be quite cooperative during her photo shoot, but if you look closely you'll notice that having her picture taken proved (how shall I say?) a little upsetting to her:

And here's Nettie, our Buckeye. If she looks a lot like Capitola, it's because Buckeyes are close relatives of Rhode Island Reds. How do we tell them apart?  Nettie has three little stripes on her back, and is usually a little more laid-back than her sharp-eyed cousin.

And here's a group shot. They're generally happiest when they're together. 

Rob and I also started work on the coop today--no actual construction yet, but we did some serious planning and acquired our materials. More on the coop next time!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Chicks Arrive!

It's been nearly a week since the chicks arrived, and I've been so busy with work and chick care that I just haven't had time to write about it until now.

The chicks arrived last Wednesday afternoon. I received an email on Monday to let me know that they'd shipped, and should arrive here sometime between Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday came and went with no word, so I signed up for USPS Text Tracking to see where the chicks were.  I learned that the chicks had been shipped from Meyer Hatchery in Polk, Ohio. Here's a video that shows their chick operation:

Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, I received another text notifying me that the birds had been delivered to the Champaign post office. I rushed to the post office, only to learn that the birds were actually at a different post office, drove there, and finally was handed a loud peeping box.

Here they are in the car on the way home.

I opened up the box right away, worrying that I might find the chicks droopy and dehydrated, maybe even dead--although all that peeping told me at least some of them were doing OK. Here's what I found:

All five were very much alive, and looking remarkably peppy!  I popped them into their brooder box, and took a quick photo:

Off to do some chick care; next time I'll post some photos of each chick so you can see how much they've grown.