Saturday, May 25, 2013

We've Got Our New Chicks!

Now that my coop and run have finally been built it's time to bring home some Chickens!  I had planned on getting young chickens, at least old enough to go straight to their coop without needing a heat lamp.  I have only heard bad things about heat lamps and coop fires so I wanted to completely avoid that stage.

I knew what breed of birds I was interested in and did some internet searching to find that there is quite a lot of backyard chicken keeping activity going on here in Arizona.  I am also part of an online chicken forum (or two) that has sub-groups for Arizona Chicken keepers within Phoenix and the surrounding communities, so I figured I wouldn't have much trouble finding the breeds I wanted locally.  I was right.  I found a lady that had most of the breeds that wanted, the only problem was that they were only 3-1/2 weeks old.  However, because she lives in Phoenix, where it's already breaking 100 degrees, the chicks were already living outdoors.  The nighttime temps in Phoenix were in the 70's.  Our nighttime temps were still dipping down into the 50's but I figured I could keep the windows and doors on the coop closed in the daytime to build up a good warm temp for nighttime inside the coop.   So I took the chicks home.

We got 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Barred Rocks, and 2 Black Australorps.  We hoped they were all females, but she said I could bring back any Roo's that we discovered later.  She was 90% sure they were all female.  So we packed them up in our dog crate for the drive home.  A few of them were small enough to easily walk through the 1-1/2" wide wires...I had not planned to get chicks this small remember.  Once during the trip I thought I heard a couple of babies peeping a little closer than the dog crate, and sure enough the smaller ones had wondered out and were in a bit of a panic.  I put them back in and we continued on home for the 1-1/2 hour drive.

It was just beginning to get dark as we arrived home.  I read that it is best to introduce chickens to their new home at night so I thought this would be perfect.  I placed the entire dog crate inside the coop and opened the door.  They wondered out to check things out but quickly returned to the crate.  To make sure it was warm enough in the coop I placed my digital outdoor thermostat inside the coop, then placed the indoor portion with the digital display in my bedroom.  The chicken coop is outside our bedroom window so I could hear the chicks if anything happened.  I was as nervous as a new mom bringing her baby home from the hospital.

 I stayed up for hours watching the temperature drop in the coop.  It had suddenly turned cold today and I didn't want to freeze my babies out their first night in their new home.  So the hubby and I reluctantly went out to the coop in the dark with only a flashlight to see and hooked up the heat lamp that a friend had given us 'just in case."  Once we had the lamp securely attached to the rafters, safely away from anything flammable, we went back to bed, at least not worrying about the cold temperatures.  Now we just worried it would get too warm or catch on fire.  We didn't have any experience with heat lamps and really didn't know how much heat they might produce in the coop.

But sleep finally came.  Throughout the night the temperature stayed sufficiently warm for the babies but not enough to burn anything.  I woke up very early to the sound of the babies peeping inside the coop and the slight hint of the sunrise coming in our window.  We made it through our first night as new chicken parents.   I quietly got out of bed and made myself a cup of coffee, then went out to the chicken run to do what I have wanted to do for some time now -watch chickens!  They were so entertaining.  I didn't realize how much I truly missed watching chickens until now.  Even at this young age I could already see some of their little personalities showing.

Today is going to be a very busy day for me because I have to assemble and install my watering system and build a feeder.  I didn't want the chicks pooping and spilling their food and water dishes so I didn't even buy any of the traditional food or water containers.   I hope you will come back again soon to learn about the Chicken Fountain watering system and the PVC Feed dispenser that I built...those two posts will be coming up next!

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Did this post stir something inside of you? If so, Please leave me a comment, I would love to know what you're thinking!!!