welcome home, little chicks.

Every day we discover brand new joys of living in a more rural town. One of those lately is the short drive to the local farm store where one can purchase everything from horse halters to pasture fencing to baby chicks. With no horses to bridle and no pastures to fence, we opted for the baby chicks.

We’ve read some homesteading books, done some shoddy internet research, and written emails back and forth with other homesteaders, so we were “ready” to begin our flock. Terrified and buzzed on baby chick adrenaline, our family of five walked into the local farm store and bought six chicks. As of this moment we have two Buff Orpington’s, two Barred Plymouth Rocks, and two Rhode Island Reds roosting in a metal trough in our kitchen/dining room. How’s that for classy?

We each got to name our own chick and then we got one for the family to share. It’s may sound silly but in just a few days their personalities are totally coming through. corresponding owners, names, personalities, and markings are as follows:

Zion named his chick Poppy.

She is a Buff Orpington (dear God let it be a she, because I don’t wanna break this baby’s heart if darling poppy turns out to be a rooster!) and currently is the most darling little fluffy yellow chick ever. She’s the smallest one of the bunch and one of the most tame because he holds her constantly (and he doesn’t exactly have the gentlest touch).

Tyler named his chick Pippin.

Tyler named his chick Pippin. He is a Barred Plymouth and is a black chick with white markings as well as some black markings on his feet and one on his beak in the shape of a V. He’s feisty, jumps the most, and was pretty resistant at first. I frequently hold him in secret to try and coerce him into being a bit more amiable when tyler holds him.. it’s working.

Micah named his chick Frodo.

Long live the Lord of the Rings! I keep waiting for the right time to adopt an accent and say “I can’t carry the ring mister Frodo, but I can carry you.” It’s gonna score me major “funny mom” points with the boys. Frodo is a Rhode Island Red, recognized by two black markings on the edges of his eyes that make it look like he’s wearing liquid eyeliner.

Mine is named Mary Oliver. (insert timid, happy smile here)

As the most observant, inquisitive, and brave one in the bunch it seemed only appropriate that she be named after the observant, inquisitive, and brave poet. She seems to be a leader in the pack (please don’t be a rooster, please don’t be a rooster..) but also bonds well to humans and is the only chick who will stand in our hand and not try to leave. She makes a lot of eye contact. it’s crazy cool.

Jeremy named his Nacho.

Nacho is a little punk. He’s a Rhode Island Red recognized by one black mark next to his eye and the way he bullies everybody else and almost pecks their eyes out. I won’t be crying buckets if he turns out to be a he. He even refused to hold still or look at the camera for his portrait!

Rowling is the family chick.

Named after Micah’s favorite author, she is the other Buff Orpington and she’s maybe our fluffiest one of the bunch. she eats out of our hands and likes to be held. She’s also incredibly patient with Zion and his accidental but frequent eyeball-grazing antics.

Things we didn’t quite bet on:

The sex wild card.
We bought these chicks without knowing how many of them, if any, will turn out to be hens.
There’s a 50/50 chance and we won’t know for about five months. If we end up with any roosters, we will donate them to a local chicken rescue farm.

Becoming a chicken doctor.
Two of our chicks turned out to have a life threatening condition known as “pasting up.” *
or as Zion called it, “a poopy problem.”
*translation – chicken shit got hard and blocked the hole where the chicken shit comes out.
Kid you not, within an hour of getting them I had to soak their little feather butts in warm water and then nearly surgically remove compacted fecal matter of chicken so the darlings wouldn’t shit themselves to death. Shit literally got real over here. As disturbing as the whole business was, I can happily report that both of the “poopy problem chicks seem completely healed and are back to their happy and active selves.

How quickly they grow.
The first day they were tiny and precious and scared. Day two they were still tiny but their feathers showed more detail and they were more bold. The third day they started trying to “fly the coop.” We are realizing we only have a few weeks to build the big coop & run and have them ready for these rascals.

How much joy they would bring.
Having our first “family pets” has been a special thing to witness and be a part of. These little bird creatures are adorable, hilarious to watch, and soft to hold. They often fall asleep standing up and then nearly fall over. The brothers watch as a chick will take to someone in the family and then they inevitably comment “you imprinted on her! good job!” The kids are learning about responsibility as they do their daily chores to clean the coop / refresh food and water and we all love to see them thrive as a result of the hard and dirty work we have done.

Time will tell if/how the story of the chicks turns into the story of the chickens & their delicious farm-fresh eggs. I only know that in the midst of house projects that never stop, a grueling commute to finish out the school year, and a busier schedule than we’ve ever maintained, these chicks are a welcome respite for each of us from the distractions and stresses of daily life as well as a delightful new way to bond and embrace our roles in being a family.

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