from the wife: My First Week as Chick Mommy

I grew up on a little farm of twelve acres. Our cash crop was strawberries, but we always had goats, sheep, pigs, chicken, (the hated) geese, and an ever-present canine companion.

My younger brother rode Brownie (the goat) for fun, probably because we didn’t know
any better not to, and I can’t eat Rice Krispies to this day because my mom used to
go out and milk the goat, and then proceed to bring the milk in and dump it on our
breakfast cereal (warm).

I also remember that long drive to pick up baby chicks. We walked in that hatchery and
the chicks were so cute. I was so excited to have more baby animals on the farm. That’s
my last memory of those chicks. My next memory of chickens was being scared to
death of getting pecked when we were sent out to gather eggs (I’m sure being chased
by geese didn’t help any). I probably dropped more eggs than I brought in worried
about getting eaten by a chicken.

When my husband brought up the idea of getting our own chicks, I thought, “Yes. This
will be different. They will be comfortable around us and love us and not try attacking us
when we get the eggs they provide for us in the fall.”

We have had the lovelies for a week and in this short week, I have learned quite a bit
about chicks that I didn’t know before. They trill like little songbirds, and it’s adorable.
They all fall asleep for a maximum of five minutes at a time until one gets restless and
stirs everyone up again…ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Not so adorable.

They are learning to peck and scratch, which means when you are trying to sleep, it
sounds like little jackhammers hitting the walls of their cage. It also means that as soon
as you replace the wood shavings in the cage, add fresh water, and replace the food,
they will almost immediately poop (like a baby with a fresh diaper), and they will scratch
shavings into their water and food dishes.

While I did realize they aren’t exactly cuddly pals, they now run when they sense
someone coming near the cage and practicing their squawking skills. I guess the
singing doesn’t last. The articles I read said if you held them a lot, and get them used
to you, they won’t be like that-the author mislead me. I guess as long as it’s me chasing
them, and not them chasing me, I will be ok.

When we brought them home last week, I was in love with these little balls of fluff.
I could watch them for hours with their tiny little chirps and checking out the new
surroundings. Today their wings seem extremely long, and they play a good bit of tag with each other.

I’m watching one now that sits contentedly like a good hen, watching the others preen and push each other out of the way of the food dish. I hope she will be a good mother hen. Then we have a bossy rascal (I hope it’s the same one) that keeps jumping on top of the feeder like King of the Hill. I’m thinking when we have another batch of chicks to mark them on their leg with a Sharpie or something so that I will be able to track their growth better.

I can say that I am no longer “in love” with these chicks (which is probably a good thing
if we ever end up having to eat them), but I do find myself watching them a good deal.
I do realize that when I scold “stop kicking into your water!” they do not understand, nor
care what I have to say. I am still in awe watching their daily changes at how awesome
nature is. They didn’t have a mama hen to show them how to eat or drink, they just did
it. They didn’t have to be taught to peck at the ground or scratch, they just do it.

They’ve changed physically and I’m a bit amazed at how I’ve watched wing and
tail feather grow in a week’s time. Their necks are longer and they lay more like rubber
chickens than hens, but they are still pretty adorable. I’m leaving in a few weeks to visit
family over spring break and I’m a bit worried about how they will do without me here,
and how much they will have changed while I am gone. For now, I’m going to enjoy this
stage while they are in it.


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