Our babies arrived yesterday, all 27 of them. After several springs of co-chickening with the neighbors, and losing just about all of them to predators, this year we chose a different course, and ordered a large chicken coop with an enclosed run. We could have given up on chickens altogether, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to that decision. Sithean is a place for fruit trees and gardening and chickens.
Still, this is a leap of faith for us, after burying as many chickens as we have to date.
We waited on tenterhooks for them to arrive, having never gotten chickens in the mail before. Eli spent hours on Tuesday preparing their bin and food. The local post office was alerted, and at 7:42 am they called us, long before they opened for the day, and we rushed to get pick them up. Our babies are here, and the endless peeping is the background music to my day. My children have taken to even eating breakfast in front of their bin, endlessly fascinated by their ‘chickle babies’.
Baby chicks can survive up to 48 hours in transit after birth, but we worried from the moment the shipment notification kicked off our waiting period. Our babies were cold and alone and what if something happened to them? There was more anxiety in our household for the 36 hours from that shipment notification to their arrival than perhaps in the history of our little family.
When we picked them up, safe and sound, the relief was palpable and the excitement was for all 4 of us.
We do have one little runt named Peep, who is smaller and not as energetic as the rest. All we can do is watch out for her and make sure food and water are available. ‘Failure to thrive’ is real in the animal kingdom, just as it can be in the human one. We’re hopeful and watchful. If she makes it, she is almost certain to be the most petted and cosseted chicken in history.
In 6 months, there will be eggs, lots and lots of them. Before that we will be able to use the chickens as the disposal point for most leftover food. Between compost and the chickens, our food waste should drop to almost nothing. This summer, they will be allowed out of their coop to roam a few hours a day to eat ticks and garden bugs. Chickens are curious creatures, and I look forward to them tromping around behind me this spring as I garden and weed.
This is Eli’s first experience with baby chicks, and I’m enjoying his relative awe and wonder at it too. Two years ago our first batch of chicks grounded us here at Sithean, turning it from a place we had just landed to a home, weaving itself around us. It’s happening again, this time for the four of us, one little ‘peep-peep’ at a time.