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Lessons Learned

The chickens are already 6 weeks old! I can’t even bear to look at their little chick pictures- they’ve changed so much! When I got them they were tiny rolling, peeping balls of fluff and now they are sleek, feathered, and huge! They also have a very strange resemblance to dinosaurs. They continue to be cooped up inside their tiny little brooder box, much to my disgust. My poor father only has time to work on the coop during the weekends, so naturally it simply isn’t getting done. First it was the foundation, than the walls, last weekend it was the roof frame. Its frustrating! I feel so utterly and completely useless- I’m just a teenage girl, what am I supposed to know about building things? All I seem to be good for is painting the siding, and even with that I am slow. As you can see, I’ve a lot to  learn, and little time to learn it all, but I have learned so much in just these six weeks!

Things I Have Learned

  1. Ordering chicks via mail is way more trouble than its worth- the Express Shipping costs a ridiculous amount, and its so stressful for the birds! It would be better just to find a good breeder nearby where I can select my own. Besides, I believe I lost two birds from the shipping stress!
  2. I should have given the new chicks electrolytes as soon as they got here in addition to their water. They needed to replenish all those nutrients they lost from three days without food or water! It was because of my ignorance that I lost two precious chicks
  3. Have the coop ready BEFORE the chicks arrive. NO PROCRASTINATING!!
  4. Chickens grow way faster than I had ever expected or would have believed. Its really quite disturbing interesting….
  5. Don’t get so attached to your chicks. I love my Edith more than anything, but she is turning out to be a rather handsome… rooster, and that my parents will not stand for they’ve assured me
  6. Chickens fight. A lot. And then they snuggle together. And then they go back to fighting. Such is the way of the chicken life.
  7. Chickens like eggs and yogurt. They like them quite a bit.
  8. At a certain point chickens should stop sitting on laps and arms, because those legs and arms will be covered with scratches and bruises and people will get concerned.
  9. Chicks do not smell. Six week old chickens do. Very bad.
  10. Don’t hold chickens close to your eyes. Enough said.
  11. Give them the best life they could ever want and have, and let that be enough.

The Good and the Bad

My chickens are four weeks old now. Their fuzz is being replaced with shiny new feathers, and their former peep greeting has been replaced by flight to my head and shoulders whenever I make the mistake of lifting the netting of the brooder. Often times they spill their water all through their shavings, and yet I can’t stop loving them. There is something incredibly therapeutic about simply being with them.

My seedlings, on the other hand, have been the definition of disappointment this year. The ones that are not withered and dying have stayed the same height since I planted them, (about the size of half my middle finger). I think its because we’ve been using normal white lights for them instead of “Grow Lights”, so they can’t thrive. I suppose I’ve learned my lesson. Thank goodness the tomatoes from last year have been reborn! I just went out in the garden, and while swatting away an obscene amount of mosquitoes, I spotted a clump of weed-like plants squatting next to my lettuce. I pulled them up with annoyance, and brought them closer to my face for another look. But then I got the subtlest hint of tomato. And sure enough, in my hand was a clump of tomato seedlings that survived the cold nights and soil overturning. Simply amazing. It just makes me so much more grateful for heirloom vegetables- people think they are “too fragile”, but these things can survive the winter! If I had ordered seeds from a GMO organization, I’d be looking at a tomato-less year. Nature is the best.

A lot has happened since I last posted. My chicks have been outside every sunny day there is. Yesterday I dragged the fence over to rest on some dirt in the sun, and Mary immediately began to dust bathe. It was the sweetest thing! But then a hawk swept by, its humungous wingspan casting a shadow over the babies, and no more outside time for that day. My dad has begun toiling away at the coop- the floor frame is all done! Pretty good for only having been at it for a weekend.

Despite these pleasant news fragments, an unfortunate event has begun to occur. I’ve noticed a comb beginning to form on Edith’s head. Sure, this is a perfectly normal occurrence for female chicks. But not this young. Not this big. And not this red. I Iament, as I won’t be able to keep her if she starts to crow. Reducing me to just two little hens.