Tag Archives: chicks

Back to “Normal”


Well, Ben’s vacation is over, so we’ve returned to real life, which is full of all the laundry I neglected last week, a little boy who wakes up every morning expecting his daddy to be here, and a daddy who wishes he could be.

We enjoyed every minute, though. The Happy Cow tour was cancelled because of the glorious rain we had on Wednesday — an exchange I was willing to make for the garden’s sake! But Ben really does want to visit the Creamery, so we’ll try to reschedule soon. The trip to Riverbanks Zoo, however, was really fun.

Around here, PsychoBunny is still psycho, but her babies are moving around enough now that we can see there are two black ones, two white ones, and one brown one. The other doe’s babies are ready to go, so I have to get them advertised. Ben’s grandparents brought us the “rabbits for sale” signs they used to put out, but I haven’t decided yet if I’m ready for random strangers to start coming up the driveway at any time of day…

Our hens had a few slow days again (8-10 eggs a day), but each of the past two days we’ve gotten fourteen. It always makes me smile when I go outside and the girls rush to crowd against the fence, hoping I’m bringing kitchen scraps. There’s not much they can’t have — raw potato peels, onions, citrus peels, and a few other things– and it’s so great to see them turn our food waste into more eggs. A few days ago, the Comets and Leghorns apparently decided to send out their champions for a little friendly competition, and the result was two eggs that each literally filled my hand.

(The egg in the middle is normal for us, approximately equivalent to an “extra large” from the grocery store.)

As for the babies, the Buff Orps are fully feathered now and ready to go outside as soon as their tractor is done. They’re so sweet and docile, while the EEs are completely crazy, going into full-fledged panic mode every time I reach into the brooder. The Silver Laced Wyandottes are like the Buffs, basically laid-back and more curious than frightened. It’s interesting how those personality traits are preprogrammed into each breed — they’ve all been well-treated and equally handled since coming to our house, and yet they respond completely differently. We’ll have to see if the EEs mellow out as they get older.

Here’s what the 3-week-old SLWs look like:

This little one is pretending to be an SLW, too, but I’m not sure it is. It has much more white on it, and it has a single yellow comb instead of the pea comb the others are beginning to sport. I’ve read that SLW roos sometimes have more white across the shoulders as chicks, so maybe it’s just a boy with a weird comb. Any ideas?

On a different note, I’m seriously craving strawberry-rhubarb pie. I think we might be making a grocery run today for just that purpose. My sister found a great recipe last year that I want to try for myself, and Ben never complains about coming home to baked goods!

But first, more laundry.


We Have a Garden! (or part of one)


Today was finally planting day! I put in about fifteen tomatoes (mostly a rainbow selection of heirlooms with a couple of hybrid cherries that were part of a salad seed pack), peppers (again, rainbow heirloom mix with a few Big Berthas), eggplant, winter squash, and cucumbers. There are still some tomatoes to plant in an area out front, and I haven’t put in any of the direct-sow stuff yet. Still, it felt good to get some plants in the ground.

Now, normally I wouldn’t plant upwards of twenty tomatoes, which is what I’ll end up with once they’re all in. But since I started these from seed, I have this irrational fear that half of them will just lay down and die tomorrow. They each have several sets of true leaves and they all look like they’re healthy, but they don’t have the same sturdy look as the ones I’ve always gotten at the garden center. When we have tomatoes coming out our ears in July, I’ll probably wish I hadn’t planted so many. At least the chickens will be happy.

Ah, the chickens. It doesn’t look like I’ll be getting my Partridge Rocks this year. The feed and seed says that the hatchery changed their order, and they’re getting a different variety of the Plymouth Rock instead. I looked into ordering them myself, but most places either have a minimum order much larger than what I need or else their shipping costs are more than the birds themselves. So first thing tomorrow morning I’m going to look at some two-week-old Silver Laced Wyandottes. SLWs are gorgeous dual-purpose birds, and I’ll be happy to add them to the flock.

A neighbor we haven’t had much interaction with saw us outside this morning and gave us a bunch of egg cartons, which we always need. He asked why we don’t ever let our hens out in the yard, and I explained that when I had my egg business in my early teens, we had a bad run-in with one of my parents’ neighbors over the free-range hens who were thoughtfully aerating and fertilizing his landscaping. But it’s nice to know that we have such chicken-tolerant neighbors here.

The idea of free-ranging is tempting. A few weeks ago, a White Leghorn escaped when I was collecting eggs, and it took her all of thirty seconds to circle the run and park herself over a big nest of black ants, where she set to work eating every ant she could find. I figure the hens have been watching those ants through the fence for weeks, just waiting for their chance to make a break for it and have a feast. They’re so much smarter than people think they are.

Our weekend has been great — the birthday party went really well, today (the actual birthday) was fun, and in the next few days we have whirlwind adventures planned to Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia and Happy Cow Creamery in Pelzer. It worked out well for Ben to take a week of vacation time, so as far as The Boy is concerned, his birthday won’t end till at least Thursday. And it will include elephants, penguins, giraffes, and very happy cows.

Late Frosts, Party Prep, and “Maybe” Chickens


Well, a couple of nights ago we had that late frost I’d been afraid might hit. I saw it coming on the five-day forecast, so we hadn’t put anything in the garden yet. This is good and bad, because while nothing got zapped, the seedlings are dying (literally, in some cases) for more space. One more cold night last night, but now hopefully we’re in the clear.

The timing could have been better — our son’s third birthday party is tomorrow, so today was spent making buttermilk poundcake (to be served with some of the fresh strawberries which have come into season a month early!) and coconut-pineapple cupcakes, not to mention all the cleaning and decorating. But at some point soon, we have to get the plants in the ground. Wonder if anyone’s ever had a “let’s plant a garden!” party for a toddler?

The duck has gotten to spend the last couple of days outside in a nice safe enclosure with her own private pool, and she apparently enjoys it so much that she doesn’t even make a mess in her brooder at night! We seem to have struck upon a winning formula, at least until she can go outside for good. (Please note my optimism about her gender.)

The Buff Orps are feathering out really quickly now, and although their heads and necks still have that scraggly look, they’re getting the plump little mother hen body shape that I love about the breed.  The Ameraucana/Easter Eggers, on the other hand, are still mostly fluffy, fuzzy, and cute. I’m hoping I can combine them with the Partridge Rocks in one brooder provided the PRs arrive next week.

I called the feed and seed yesterday to confirm that the chicks would be there in a few days, and hung up completely unsure. There was talk of the order having been cancelled (by them, not me), and lots of confusion over what PRs were, and now I’m just hoping they’ll actually get here. I was also told that our Silkies are supposed to arrive on April 25 instead of in June. So basically I’m completely confused now.

This weekend, though, belongs to my boy. It’s amazing to think how quickly the past three years have flown by, and to be honest, I can’t remember what life was like without him. He lives joyfully, and he shares that joy with us every moment of every day. He also snatches coconut-pineapple cupcakes when he thinks no one is looking. 🙂

Crazy. Completely Mad.


First of all, let me just get this out of the way: I’m crazy. Probably certifiable.

Let’s review: I have seven 3-week old Buff Orpingtons in my Florida room. And a duck. Here are the Buff Orps in their current state of half-featheredness.

Within two weeks, I’ll have six Partridge Rocks arriving. Day-old chicks. Starting all over from scratch (no pun intended). So what did I do today? Went and brought home six tiny Ameraucanas, of course. Look at these, though, and tell me you could have walked away.

They totally played on my weakness for owls. Tiny, fluffy, peeping owls. And I just keep telling myself that my layers will molt this winter and we will need the eggs. Need them. But I’m still crazy. It’s OK. As I understand it, all the best people are.

The duck hasn’t been forgotten in all of this. Today he got to play in the bathtub and get all cleaned up, which my almost-3-year-old thought was the best thing ever.

So, we’ve established that I’m crazy and that my bathtub now needs a good scrubbing. It also needs to not be pink anymore, but we’ll settle for an absence of duck residue.



The big patch of turned soil in the backyard is calling my name. The seedlings in the sunroom and on the stone wall out back are begging for room to stretch their roots. And my fingers are itching to dig in the dirt. Patience is not my forte, but Ben wants to expand the garden before I get started (and it does need to be bigger), so I’m building character here.

I’ve been working on getting the chicken tractor painted in preparation for attaching the wheels and wire, and it’s looking pretty cute. The chicks, who will be very happy to get out on grass and have more space, are in their early adolescent stage, so they’re not so cute right now.

They’re also filthy, thanks to the duck, who isn’t content unless the brooder floor looks like a swamp. (Seriously, I’ve been expecting Troy Landry to float by in a pirogue, hollering, “Choot ’em, Jacob!”) I finally separated them a few nights ago and put the duck in its own box. That plus the dust bath box I’ve provided the chicks should have them looking better soon.

It should be noted that the duck (which I’m now about 95% sure is a Cayuga) is not happy with this new arrangement and is making his/her displeasure known very loudly. Don’t worry, though, he/she is getting lots of extra attention and will be reunited with his/her friends soon. (And by the way, I’m really rooting for it to be a “she.”)

Our laying hens have had a few “off” days this past week, so I’ve been giving lots of pep talks and thanking them profusely every day we get a dozen or more. Yes, I know they can’t technically understand me, but I’m pretty sure they get the idea. I’m grateful for every egg they give us, but I have requests now for six to seven dozen a week, so job performance has become an issue. When the new pullets start laying, I know we’ll be up to our ears in eggs again, but right now, we’re stretched pretty thin.

So, if you’ve read my other posts, you’ve probably deduced that I find the idea of a self-sufficient village dynamic very appealing. That preference got much stronger after my son and I went to Williamsburg, VA, last fall with my mom, sister, and two nieces. Our favorite spot was the colonial garden and nursery, a new addition since my 8th grade trip there in 1994. We visited at least twice a day to drool over the hotbeds and withy fences.

Now, one of the resident gardeners, Wesley Greene, has written Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way, full of wonderful information about eighteenth century techniques and heirloom vegetables. It’s a great book, full of beautiful photographs and useful tips.

Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way

So while I wait to put all of those young plants in the ground, I’m reading about organic gardening “from a time when organic was the only gardening” and thinking about how strange it is that the chemical-laced produce in the grocery store is now considered “conventionally grown.” Oh yes, and I’m being patient…