What started out as a rainy day somewhat devoid of promise has ended up a special treat: our chicks arrived! Ok, I should be more specific. They're technically Mom's chicks, but like a new puppy we can all pretend ownership when such intense cuteness is involved.
Mom participates in what I would call an Egg Cartel. Together with a number of other folks in the area who keep small numbers of chickens, she gathers eggs, pools the dozens, and delivers them to folks all over the western Dayton area. For those trying to muscle in? I'm pretty sure there are some midnight visits from The Flock. Chickens seem dumb, but they can be senselessly brutal, let me tell you. Anyone who has seen a frog or mouse get into the hen-house knows I'm not joking. And anyone who has been around chickens much knows they are certainly senseless.
But I'm straying. The point is that Mom keeps a flock of about 40-50 hens around at any one time. After about 3 years they stop laying and end up in the pressure cooker getting canned. After being killed, of course. So every year she gets another batch of chicks.
This year we have New Hampshire Reds, Black Sex-Links, Barred Rocks, and Ameraucana chicks. (If you visit those links and click on the big photo it shows two or three more great pictures, one of them the chick.) Incidentally, we ordered ours from Mt. Healthy Hatchery, in nearby Mt. Healthy, Ohio.
We showed up at the local grain elevator, which receives the orders, and made a fuss. How can you not? Baby chicks are so cute. I'll not pretend we didn't make fools of ourselves. We took them home to the pen that Mom so expertly set up: a foot-tall cardboard barrier, newspaper floor, two one-quart waterers and a food trough, plus three heat lamps. A few rocks, too, to make it interesting. And we put them in, one by one, and introduced them to the water. As Mom pointed out, the huge 5,000 chicken operations must somehow get by without doing this, but it's tradition. Each one must be set in front of the water and have its beak dipped in at least twice. So they know it's water, right? Never mind that they spend all their time running around pecking things, from food to spiders to chicken poop to their own feet. They would probably discover the water. But we don't leave it to chance: it gives us an excuse to handle each and every one of them!
At this point I am going to try a first in my blogging experience, and stick in a video. I read a book recently that asserted that chickens are much more entertaining than tv. Absolutely, I say. But what about chickens on tv?