Week 2 of Chicks

Guest post: Charlotte

In spite of our best intentions, documenting the chicks has not been as thorough as we had hoped. Big Foot and her inhabitants have been busy as ever with all sorts of projects. Many of these pertain to the chicks and so, an update is due.

It’s been a mixed bag of a week for our little chicks. Lots of excitement (including some involving excrement), learning (for humans and chickens), and, unfortunately, some loss.

Excitement: The big excitement, which was scary, was a power outage last Monday. Of course the chicks rely on the heat lamp and the heat blanket, both of which rely on the outlet, which relies on … power. As soon as we put two and two together, all hands were on deck. Josephine procured a hot water bottle, while Babette fished some old foam insolation out from the basement and covered the top of the brooder with as many sweaters as could be spared. Nerves were high – would it work? How long would the power be out? Was there a fire hazard if it came back on unexpectedly in the night? The first and last question did not receive an answer, for as soon as we had set everything up the power returned. BUT now we know we have a plan for the next power outage! Woo! Or … if we wanted to do electricity free chicks.

Loss: Last weekend we noticed that some of our chicks had developed pasty butt –  also known as pasting, paste up, or sticky bottom. Pasty butt basically means that some of the chick’s droppings are sticking to their vent, and then harden and seal the vent shut. IT IS A VERY SERIOUS CONDITION and despite twice-a-day cleanings with q-tips, warm water, and gentle touch, three of our chicks were lost. Babette and I gave them a proper burial with flowers and a yellow crepe paper shroud.

Learning: Due to the pasty butt problem, we decided to look into natural ways of prevention. One simple answer was fermented grain. Turns out fermentation is good for the chicks’ gut bacteria too! Now we give them an ice cube tray full twice a day. They are growing fast.

We also remodeled the wool-y hen into a wool-y castle, complete with starter roosts made of twigs. The chicks love being brave and hoping up, then practicing fluttering down. They are learning to be real chickens!

Loss (and excitement): Some of our chicks are no longer as baby – they are growing real wing and tail feathers and have doubled in size. We think these might be the roosters. While we are sad to lose the cute baby-ness of them, we are excited to see them grow into big boys and girls!

We got our incubator in the mail yesterday and will be picking up some eggs on Thursday. Another learning experience is just around the bend.

Chow for now Arizona,


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