The chicks (two weeks old tomorrow) are growing rapidly and have out-sized their original brooder. They actually became too big for it two days ago so I split them in half and put them in two identical, original plastic tubs with lids to give them some extra room. Yes, the lids were necessary since they were happily jumping up on top of their food container and then eyeing the brim of the tub for their next step to freedom!
Splitting them bothered me since I wanted them to continue to associate as a flock. So it was my goal to find them a larger, amenable, joint space quickly. Since they are still too small to be in their larger indoor coop space, (they need to be 4-6 weeks old for that) we went in search of a medium sized containment system to tide them over for the next couple of weeks.
We found a large sized – 6 foot diameter – kiddie pool to use but we knew the pine shavings litter system was not going to pair well with that environment since it would be really hard to clean out. (I had been cleaning out their smaller containers 2x a day by entirely by replacing all the litter…I was super fastidious!) Our research pointed us toward river sand as a medium instead of pine shavings for their litter for many, many good reasons. Here is an article from The Chicken Chick, someone who has great knowledge and whom I trust on these things. So, off we went in the pick up truck to find this particular type of sand which is different from the type that a kid has in a sand box!
We landed at a local masonry supplier, Brentwood Material, and found exactly what we wanted at an unbelievable price! We got nearly 300 pounds of this sand for $4.72. Yes, it bears repeating…four dollars and seventy two cents! Here is what it looked like in the back of Dave’s truck. We spent the morning off loading it (OMG, sand is heavy!) into small containers that we carried down to fill the pool surround in the coop. After many trips, we felt pretty good that the new brooder was ready, so I transferred all the chicks to their new home. As a well intentioned new chick mom – AKA “playground attendant” – I hung around and watched the ensuing activity. I’m glad I stuck around since the pool walls (ony 15″ tall) did not prove high enough to keep the chicks from lofting up from their food dish and then to the top of the wall…and out from there! Oh, drat and arg and all those other words I know so well!
Luckily, I had another plan and put that into play quickly. The barn construction crew had a roll of 24″ tall metal sheeting on site (which you see pictured here as the ‘white wall’) so I grabbed what was there and put it in place on the surround of the pool walls. Phew, it worked! I added some logs as well from our wood pile to give them something fun to climb and roost on. Here they are in the new, taller surround, exploring all aspects.
Any time you move chicks to a new location they freak out and cheep, cheep, cheep with an urgency to their voices but they soon settled in and started to relax and enjoy their new space. I know this because they took their first dust baths which was a bit of a shock to witness since they appear to be having a stroke…but is very spa-like for them. Here is Petunia, one of the Easter Eggers that Joan and Tom named, taking her first dust bath.
In general, the flock is very happy to have the extra space to play and explore and they have responded very positively…so much so that I think they actually grew a bit today as a response to their expanded privileges!
In other farm news, I continue to spend several hours each day picking blueberries which are devoured fresh, frozen or made into jam – over 112 pounds so far and many more to go! Cucumber processing has just begun but is ongoing as I work up various kinds of pickles. Yesterday I put up 20 pounds of dills into my pickle crocks for fermenting using my own garlic and dill. Ah, so satisfying!
Here they are in the crock with brine and ready for a weight on top to sit for a couple of weeks. The smell of dill is wonderful but also thrilling is the use of so many cukes!
In addition to those, today I canned another 9 lbs of cukes into 10 pints of our favorite recipe, Sweet Jalapeno Pickles, using the jalapenos from the garden in the bottom of each jar. Dave continues to dig potatoes, as well as many other harvest items but the best news is that we have started to enjoy the first tomatoes of the season! Oh, how nice is that!?! We are eating them a couple at a time at this point but they are multiplying rapidly so I hope to be making tomato sauce soon.
I could not help but take this photo of our ‘glove parade’ as we try to clean them off with the hose before putting into the washing machine for future uses. We go thru them so fast as holes appear rapidly in all the fingers! Good news is that Dave is a lefty and I’m a righty so as we wear out the fingers, we can coordinate to a certain degree? Some of the sturdiest of them are plastic coated but they are way too hot to wear all day long! Watch for more chick updates as well as name ideas which are becoming more obvious as they mature! So far, the four Easter Egger chicks are well named: 2 by the Moores – Petunia & Myrtle, and 2 by my nephew, Jack – Buttercup and Violet…all flower names since these are the colorful egg layers! More names in the next post!