Sunday, May 29, 2011

The nursery is occupied: Redux!

So when Milo made his big debut in February of 2010, we blogged about how the nursery was finally occupied. Well Milo has some new neighbors upstairs and we have a new birth to announce--our baby chickens!!! I traveled to Williamstown, VT on Friday to pick up our little ladies...persevering in the face of intense rains, high winds, and flooding (was actually detoured at one point because of a fallen tree and water over the road). We have had record rainfall here in Burlington and I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to pick them up on time--but I made it and there they were in their little carrying box, all cute and fuzzy and LOUD. They peeped and cheeped the whole way home. On the one hand, it was reassuring. I figured if they had the energy to belt it out, they were in pretty good shape. On the other hand, it was incredibly distracting and disconcerting to have a live box of really noisy animals next to you in the front seat while driving 65 mph on I-89. (Okay, so I was really going 75 because I was so worried one was going to die in transit and wanted to get home before the fateful moment.)

So far (knock on wood), they have proven much more resilient than I expected. I was convinced they were all going to keel over one after the other, like sad, slow bowling pins being knocked over by a Coccidiosis bowling ball. (One of my weaker--yet most dramatic!--metaphors) But they survived the trip home, eventful as it was, and have made it through the first 48 hours.

We've had three cases of pasty butt but nothing a Q-tip soaked in warm water and some Vaseline couldn't fix. They seem to like their brooder and are especially fond of kicking fresh litter into their water dish. I'm offering positive reinforcement...complimenting them on every few minutes that pass without the offending litter making its way into the water...but my approach doesn't seem to be working. I might have to implement the time-out rule soon. They also like preening themselves, pecking at the spots of color in the newspaper under their litter, and sleeping in positions that make me think they're dead. Think face down, arms/wings flat out, shallow hard-to-detect breathing. They do this a lot. I think they may actually be hot. The brooder is a steady 95 degrees which the books say is the right temperature for chicks this age but their body language seems to suggest otherwise. So we might raise the heat lamp a bit. Also, for those of you out there with partners who spend an inordinate amount of money on drum equipment that doesn't possibly look like it's worth the amount that shows up on your credit card bill, take heart. A drum boom makes a lovely heat lamp holder. Yay for making me feel better about the original cost of said drum boom.

Here are some pics. of our babes. Oh, and I almost forgot the most important detail--their names! The three Buff Orps are named Sophia, Rose, and Dot. Get it? Hint: The chicks are golden. Our four light Brahmas are named Billie, Ella, Nina, and Carmen. Any guesses as to the back story there? Feel free to post in the Comments section with your best guesses.