Saturday, March 2, 2013
For the past three months, we have had the date of February 27th circled on the calendar. This was the date our nearby urban farm supply store listed as the arrival date for newly hatched Ameraucana, Welsummer and Dominique chicks. From our studious research, these were the next three breeds we wanted to try--Dominuqes being one of the oldest heritage breeds in the United States. We scrubbed our brooder tote with vinegar water, washed all the gear from last year (water and food dishes) and weaned the pepper starts off the heat lamp so it could be used for the new babies and then we checked the days off on the calendar.
On the morning of February 27th, I called the Fancy Urban Farm Store (not its real name) to make sure to reserve our chicks so Teri could pick them up after work, only to find out that none of them were in and it wasn't known when or if they would be in. What?! Disappointment. Sad faces. Regrouping.
That night, Teri and I had a heart-to-heart about whether we wanted to wait and hope and search for those breeds or whether we were open to the adventure of trying other chickens and expanding our flock regardless. Guess what decision we made? We decided we weren't that snobby and that it might be fun to be a little more spontaneous.
The next day, Teri called the Fancy Urban Farm Store just to see if there was any chance for the Doms and the Wels. Turns out that sometimes eggs don't hatch. The best-laid plans of farmers and schedulers just don't matter and for whatever reasons--genetic or environmental--incubated eggs don't always hatch cute live baby chicks. We were told there would be some Ameraucanas in that day, however, and there were various babes almost a week-old from the previous week's hatch.
What little we know about chicks is that you want to get chicks close in age to increase the chances they will get along and not pick on each other. Teri picked me up at 5:30 pm after both our long work days, and we stopped first at our local farm and ranch supply store where we picked up a tiny Rhode Island Red from one of the few tubs they had. She chose it and paid while I called the Urban Fancy Farm Store to see if they still had any of the newly-arrived Ameraucanas. We were in luck, but we had to get there by 6 pm! We promised the farmy ranchy folk that we were not going to raise just one lonely chick and zoomed off across town, sliding into the parking lot at the Urban Fancy Farm at five minutes to six.
We chose our Ameraucana and, on the spot, decided a Plymouth Barred Rock would round out our trio. After all, we thought we remembered them to be black and white like a Dominique so Teri would have her wish that all six would look completely different!
So, we are forgetting why it seemed so important to have the original breeds we chose as we get to know our new babies and they get to know each other. They are already sleeping in a pile and playing an exhausting game we call "Chick Rugby" with each other (they take turns grabbing a tiny piece of cedar shaving and chase each other around trying to grab it.) As a mini-flock and as individuals, they all seem different from our current hens (and last year's babies.) Feathers are growing in before our eyes and we have plodded headlong again into the delightful world of raising pullets...again!