Chicks in the time of corona

20200409_204922.jpgIt is evening and I am sitting upstairs in one of the attic guest rooms next to a box of 40 sleeping baby chicks.    It is so peaceful; all is right in the world – as it should be.  These tiny new lives, so delicate, are utterly calm and content.  Their feeling of content expands around them in a bubble a wave, and envelopes me.  What a gift.  Thank you little baby chicks.

My daughter Charlotte and I drove out to Western Mass today to get them.  It was completely miserable, cold and driving rain, and getting more water thrown on our dashboard by lines of large trucks.  We stayed in the slow lane on the right and had a car-meeting about our joint chicken project.  We set the agenda: goals, grand overview of project timeline, preliminary task division, next steps.  It was a fantastic meeting, very productive and clear.   Charlotte really knows her stuff when it comes to setting up to jointly do a project!

We picked up chick paraphernalia a-la corona: I ordered everything online, received a confirmation email that everything was ready for pick up, then called when we got to the store to ask them to bring it to our car.  I put on a face mask and gloves for any store interaction.  They were supposed to just put it in the back of the car, but there was a bit of a snafu and we ended up in a huddle with 3 people at the back of the car.  Then I emailed the person who was selling us the chicks with a proposal for the exchange: we meet in a designated parking lot; I put the cash in an envelope and put it on his dashboard; I open the back of the car and he puts the box of chicks in.  When this was done, Charlotte picked up the box with gloves on to put it on her lap for transporting; we don’t open the box yet because we have not disinfected it with a spray of bleach.   It does work – humans are quite adaptable after all – but in a year we will look back on this all and shake our heads: did we really do all those things?

So in this crazy time, the chicks are a blessing.   Our plan is to have the 4 of them up here in the 4×4 brooder we made out of old left-over plywood that had been standing out in the yard, some scraps of hardware cloth and 2×4’s and screws we had on hand based on a youtube design — with some of our own improvements of course :).  Then they will move to the 4×8 urban mini-coop for we built at a Boston Food Forest Workshop for 4-6 weeks, and the brooder will be for a next batch of chicks.  In these weeks, we will build the big chicken run out in Hatchery road and move the chicks out there after the mini-coop.   After two or three rounds, we want to end up with 50 laying hens and some amount of roosters at Hatchery road.  We have unsexed chicks because in a weird way it seems better to at least honor the roosters with 4 months of a good life and a purpose in the end, than to have them killed at birth, which is what happens to excess male chicks, but our daughter Josephine does not like the bit about the roosters, and I can understand.

One of the goals of the chicken project is to be better about documenting all the fun, clever, silly, dumb things we do.  So hopefully, there will be more to come.  But for now, good night little chicks!

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