It’s pretty amazing to me how quickly I’ve gone from a rational, intelligent woman to a simpleton speaking baby talk. I’d blame these baby chicks, but that would be just plain wrong. So, I’ll pass it off as some new twist on post-mentapausal hormonal crazy and leave it there.
They are just so DAMN CUTE!
They’ll be a week old on Monday (and I won’t be here to help them celebrate so I hope Daddio at least makes mention of the landmark event). I do plan to make a big deal about it when I get back.
I’m pretty sure when I went to bed last Monday night I was not expecting to get this far without some major catastrophe. That I’ve kept them safely tucked away from all harm in the kitchen of the shop apartment has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the fact that no catastrophe has yet to happen. Although, the first time I went in and found a couple of them stretched out, I was convinced, momentarily at least, that they were dead. One shriek from me and they were all awake and running for cover!
The truth is, it was just too hot in the uninsulated shop to have a heat lamp on all day. The box isn’t long enough for them to totally escape the lamp. I can’t turn it off because, even with the ambient warmth, there wouldn’t be enough heat to keep them at the required 95°-98°. I could continue going in every hour to check and adjust, but then I wouldn’t be getting much else done. And it is important to me that they be chickens, which means they should be independent as soon as possible.
Most importantly, the peak temperature in the shop exceeds the minimum reduced temperature required for keeping the chicks in the later stages of feather development. And we’re moving more determinedly into the hotterthanhades temperatures of a normal Texas summer each passing day.
So, we were on a losing track almost from the start.
My routine has been to go out first thing in the morning (well, after stumbling to the bathroom, getting dressed, feeding the dog, and making coffee) to check on the chicks. I replace the paper towels, wash the thermometers (so I can read them without having to guess what’s under the chicken poop), wash and refill the waterers, and shake the feeders to fill the holes back up. I’m doing this twice a day with some quick checks in between to make sure nobody is in need of anything.
Initially, they would all flatten themselves against the box walls as soon as the door opened. I make a point to pick them up and talk to them (without the baby voice because I want them to use grown-up words, duh!) and make sure they know my voice, my smell, my personality. So, as the week has progressed they are becoming more accustomed to my invasions and curiosity is winning out.
When I took my camera in last evening, they hardly even noticed. Although the sound was unfamiliar and there was a lot of scurrying around along with the sidelong glances I have started to see. But most were comfortable going about their chickening while I snapped a few frames.
As will happen, one in particular has become the alpha female, or “mama bird” of the flock. She has a “V” on top of her head, so we’ve dubbed her “Vee” for now. She positions herself between the other birds and me or whichever human is closest to the box. Once assured there’s no real threat, she walks around watching the others eat or drink or sit. She doesn’t eat when they are eating. Just watches her flock. It’s been an interesting development.
One or two others have started pecking at fingers offered in worm-like wiggles to pique curiosities. One pecks and several others come running to see what’s going on.
Today we’re heading to the feed store to buy a stock tank. These chicks have already started trying to fly and, while it is absolutely hysterical to watch, I want a deeper brooder arrangement to avoid having them meeting me at the door soon. And too, someone figured out how to peck the wall of the box and start a hole.
I’m not blaming anyone, but I sense a jailbreak plan being hatched.