I got a call from the Post Office one morning last April, informing me that a rather noisy box had arrived for me. I met our mail carrier, Tom, at the mailbox and then I hurried home with the box. Once inside, I opened the box and removed 42 (I think it was 42, I may have lost count a time or two) loudly peeping little balls of fluff. After carefully dipping each little beak in water and chick starter, I stood back and watched them check out their brooder. The Taterbug and Boodie were beside themselves with excitement, begging to hold the baby chicks.
You hear over and over that they grow fast. This is especially true when your chicken coop isn't finished, and they're living in your mudroom bathroom. 3am was the only time they were totally silent. They generated a lot of chick dust, even though we had the exhaust fan running most of the time. The girls were constantly sneaking in to hold them, much to the chicks' dismay. They became a lot less cute.
Fortunately, the husband doesn't particularly like to have animals in the house, so he was motivated to get the exterior walls, windows and door installed in the coop so we could move them out.
The chicks settled in to their new digs, once they concluded that the coop was not out to get them (everything likes to eat chicken, and they instinctively know this).
Once they were old enough to spend their days outside, the second round of my insanity began.
On the day when the record spring flooding was the worst, and there was talk of cutting a trench across the highway, effectively cutting us off from the entire rest of the state, a peeping box from Metzer Farms arrived at the post office 70 miles to the south of us. I asked my sister to intercept it and care for its contents until it could be delivered to my house. It turned out that the road didn’t need to be cut, so she and my nephew headed up to visit for the afternoon.
These little fluffballs (11 ducklings, 2 goslings) were a whole different experience from the chicks. They grew even faster, they ate more, they were convinced that I was going to kill them, and they produced an incredible amount of wet, smelly…yeah. I couldn’t wait til they were old enough to go outside during the day. I’m pretty sure the chickens were eager to see the end of them too.
I’ve lost a very few to predators, but for the most part, things are going well. There is a comedian among the ducks (I hear the hysterical laughter every day), the geese like to stand just beyond the dog’s reach and taunt him, and the chickens hang out in the low branches of trees, a la Sesame Street, when they’re not trying to get into my back yard. Even if they never produced a bit of food for my family, or a bit of fertilizer for the garden, they’re good for a lot of entertainment. Not to worry though, they’ve produced a lot of fertilizer. And the eggs are almost too pretty to eat.