24 February 2010

Bright and shiny

To brighten up our suddenly white, white winter wonderland, we have a dozen balls of fluff to take care of. They arrived bright and shiny, right as the storm began to hit. This year I wanted to be sure to have one of the earliest shipments of chicks because I want layers by late fall, instead of the middle of winter. I also wanted the girls to be able to be fully grown to enjoy free-ranging safely before winter and to be able to help me in the garden. My big girls will be helping me "till" the garden this spring as soon as the ground thaws. They will also be charged with eating all of the grubs that have overwintered there so they won't hatch and eat my plants, a chore they have been dreaming about all winter!

The babies mesmerize us with their antics. Suddenly a chick will be in a hurry to get somewhere but halfway through its run, will pause for a nap, eventually toppling over and waking up again.

Some will tunnel into their food and feel they are in heaven. Others aren't content unless they are seated on top of another, or have one foot in the water dish.

We have four of each, Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, and Silver Laced Wyandottes, all excellent egg layers, all large sized birds (a deterrent to aerial predators when fully grown), all cold hearty and friendly, and hopefully, all girls. It's hard to imagine at this moment, seeing the chicks in their coats of pure fluff and knowing the long road of care that lies ahead for each one of them, but if one does turn out to be a roo, I most likely will have to play the role of Alice's Queen of Hearts ("off with his head!"). At times there can be little room for sympathy on a farm, even an organic one. So let's hope the chicken sexer is profoundly good at his or her profession so we can enjoy the eggs and company of all of our little fluff balls for many years to come.

Savannah kisses a RIR chick that fell asleep in her hands. They often fall asleep as we cradle them - we like to think it's because they're imagining themselves under the warmth of their mother's wing.

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