Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chick Chick Chick DUCK!

Who can resist a fuzzy chick? For that matter, who can resist a fuzzy duck?! Certainly not me! Friday was Chick Day at Busy Solitude Farm. The egg supply diminished year by year and the time had come to restock with young girls who will provide for all of our customers. Besides, who can resist a fuzzy chick?!

The box held four Buff Orpington hens (Mama Hen was a Buff Orp, they're the sweetest birds), four Isa Browns (a new breed to me), and two Pekin ducks (the classic white duck). The chickens are sexed and should be all girls. But the ducks are "straight run" so fingers crossed there's at least one girl for eggs. Time will tell.

I noticed when I first let them into the kennel that one little girl (they're called "pullets" by chicken people) was pasted up. That's a condition that happens when the poop gets stuck in the feathers instead of falling away from the chick. It can resolve itself, but it can also become serious if it blocks other poop and things get backed up. So I planned to get a warm washcloth and come back to the barn to wash her off.

However, I got distracted and did not get back to the barn for a few hours.

When I got there I watched the chickens one by one, waiting for one to turn around and show me a pasty butt. But one by one they walked around and I saw clean feathers. Well, thought I, maybe she got cleaned up. But then I counted the chicks. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7... Where was number 8??? Take another look at the photo above. I realized the chicks are still small enough to get between the bars of the kennel. I started slowly walking around the kennel (which is up on a piece of furniture in the barn), pulling things away on the floor, looking for a chick. And there she was, absolutely still. Oh no!

I scooped her up from the chilly ground and surrounded her with my hands, brought her up to my cheek and was rewarded with a little peck of my nose. Working quickly, I washed up her butt and popped her back in under the heat lamp. This is not a great photo because the flash didn't work, but she's standing in the middle and you can see the wet feathers of her butt.

Now they're all settling in. The ducks are voracious consumers, eating, drinking, eating, drinking. They stomp around, a little unsteady still on their flat feet, and they tower above the chicks. The peeps are still cotton-balls-on-sticks, no sign of tailfeathers, just the very first pin feathers on the wings. They peep peep peep around, and then suddenly keel over on their beaks, sound asleep with wings spread out to the sides. There's no better entertainment than a pen of chicks and ducklings!

In fact, the adult chickens are trying to catch a glimpse of what's going on just outside their hen pen:

It will be a while before they can meet face to face. Hope they all become accustomed to their different sounds before then.


MaryEllen Schneider said...

So sweet! Of course, babies have to be cute because they're so darn much work.

I'd have to say though that there's no better entertainment than watching baby animals in general.

When I fostered puppies, folks would come over and sit on the floor for hours. Even met some neighbors I didn't know because they'd heard about the puppies and wanted to see them.

Judy A. McGhee said...

Reading some of your farm stories certainly takes me back to another time and place. Thanks for the memories!