Grit Blogs > Red Pine Mountain

Day-Old Chicks: While Mountain Man Is Away

Red Pine Mountain logoMountain Man left last week for the Ozarks, and his parting words were “Try not to get into trouble while I'm gone.” I solemnly promised I would try and I was doing fine for a while but . . .

At 6:00 a.m. one morning, I’m barely awake and enjoying my first cup of coffee watching the dogs run around outside. The phone rings and I jump. Mountain Man never calls this early. Something must be wrong. Something was wrong all right but not with Mountain Man.

“This is the Post Office. We have your chicks here.”

“Chicks, what chicks?”

“Chicks you must have ordered. There’s a box here with your name on it, and you can come pick them up now if you’d like.”

Oh, no! Not the chicks! I wasn't supposed to be getting any chicks this year. It all started last winter when Mountain Man finally told me I could have chickens. I went crazy shopping for poultry by mail lured by pictures of adorable chicks in catalogs and placed quite a large order. As time went by and I got busy with my additional horses and greenhouse projects, I decided I had my hands full and called to find out if I could cancel the order. After all, they weren't due to arrive in Vermont for months.

“Not a problem” the woman on the phone said. “I'll do it right now.” I hung up and gave it no further thought.

Now I'd done it. Mountain Man was going to kill me. Panic set in and I jumped in the car and headed to pick up my babies. What was I going to do? I wasn’t ready for chicks. Mountain Man had stopped work on their part of the barn when I decided I wasn't getting them and now here they were.

I could hear them long before I walked in the Post Office. Angry chirps greeted me. “Get me out of here!” they seemed to be saying. I picked up the box and headed to the car. “Ouch, which one of you pecked me?” Seems I wasn’t going fast enough and some little devil had stuck it’s beak out of the hole and expressed its displeasure.

Brrr, it was freezing outside. Of course, the Northeast Kingdom had to pick today to have unseasonably cold weather and the only thing I did know was newly hatched chicks require heat. I cranked up the thermostat and headed home as fast as I could sweating profusely and listening to very loud birds. Who knew babies could make so much noise?

Home, now where to put them? The tack room! Mountain Man had installed a heating system in there last year thank goodness. I cranked up the thermostat to 90 and dragged out a space heater. “Hold on little ones. I have to go get your supplies.”

I was in luck. The local feed store opens early in the summer. “Help, I need supplies for baby chicks,” I said, and help me they did. Who knew such small birds required so many items? I left loaded down with organic chick starter, heat lamps, a feeder, a water pan and electrolytes and a giant horse water trough for the babies to live in until Mountain Man returns.

The hatchery had enclosed instructions to put down paper towels covered with food for the first day of the chicks’ life. That was easy enough. Now I had to hang the heat lamps. That proved more challenging as I remembered my promise to Mountain Man not to burn down the farm. Took me a while but I think Mountain Man would be proud or at least not worried our new barn would go up in flames.

Now it was time to release my tiny brood; guineas, Narragansett turkeys, buff Brahmas, Golden Laced Cochins and Easter Egg chickens (that’s really what they are called). I opened the box and held my breath. Oh, if any one of them were dead, I’d blame myself. But they were fine. So please welcome the newest 35 residents of Red Pine Mountain.

My first look at the new babies.

First look at the new chicks.

Another first look picture

Here are the lilac guineas.

Lilac guinea keets

Checking out their new residence.

Chicks checking out their new residence

And my newest blog star, one of the turkeys who is already learning to play to the camera.

A turkey chick playing to the camera.

I'm happy to say all the babies are doing just fine. But, if you happen to be in the Ozarks and see Mountain Man, well, let's just keep this our little secret until he returns.