Unexpected Chicks

The hilarious irony of desiring to write about homesteading is that most of my prime writing hours are taken up by … homesteading.

Anyone who has ever had the blessing of caring for small children knows that nap times are like a golden gift from God and you better not waste those precious two hours or you’ll kick yourself. I’m not dictating what a waste of time might be. Sometimes, I’m not making huge headway in the mess of the kitchen or the weeds of the garden. Sometimes, I get myself a much needed nap during that time, too. But most often, I try to orient my day so that major chores are taken care of ahead of time and I can sit in front of the laptop screen and clack out a few paragraphs about Life.

Those afternoons are some of the greatest joy to me.

And days like today, I am amused at how things pan out. For instance, our laying hens needed water replaced, which only I can do (the older children feed them and pick the eggs). It is about 40 degrees and rainy today, but still quite lovely as the world is at the outer edge of turning green. Then I noticed the hens’ waterer was due for a good scrubbing. Next, my daughter had built a new fairy house, so that needed to be viewed and admired with her. I gathered up some wood shavings in a box after that because on Sunday, we were blessed with unexpected chicks. The chicks needed fresh bedding over their newspaper now that they know what their feed looks like and can scratch it out on their own. They also needed their tiny waterer cleaned out.

We had been told by a friend that we were paying for ready-to-lay pullets, 10 of them. We have suffered some losses by raccoons over the past year in our flock, so this was a welcome expense. However, since our friend was getting them from a relative of a girlfriend of a roommate (no joke), there was a bit of miscommunication and when we finally got word on Easter Sunday that we’d be getting our chicks that evening, we gave a little clarifying cough.

“Ahem … you meant to say chickens, right?”

No, was the sheepish and apologetic reply. They were chicks. One day old. The cost of a pullet for a day-old chick. Wait, what? This seemed like a raw deal until we researched the breed. Apparently, there aren’t a lot of Copper Marans around this country and these were custom hatched across the state. Looking online, this farm’s price was better than any others we could find, so we felt at least that this part of the deal was not ‘foul.’ (pun intended).

The problem arose in that we were not anticipating chicks, nor set up for them.

What do you when life hands you day-old chicks? You build a Cheepie-Teepee!

It’s been about five years since we had an old baby pool set up with heat lamps and newspaper, but once we gathered the supplies, it was just like old times. The teepee is a queen-sized bed sheet that might have covered plants in the fall. The structure is a tripod camping grill, with grill removed. (Said grill is still at the bottom of our fire pit from boiling sap.) Since the tripod is designed to hold a lot of weight in the middle, hanging a couple heat lamps was no concern. The sheet is far enough away from the heat source to be safe from potential flames. I’m not sure it would ever be seen in a chicken-keeping manual, but my husband and his mom certainly put together a top-notch chick brooder with limited resources. Isn’t that the heart of homesteading anyway?

And now, with all animals cared for and children still napping or playing quietly, I have the time, after all, to tap out a few words about living the “simple” life.

  • Published on Apr 8, 2015
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