New Arrivals!

Spring officially begins on March 20th but it has arrived early at our house. Last Wednesday, I drove to Wake Forest, NC to pick up the first batch of our spring chicks, 2 Dominiques and 2 Black Australorps! The Dominiques are an endangered heritage breed. Thy are medium size and will lay 3 brown eggs per week. The Australorps are a calm and friendly breed, similar to Orpingtons. They are large birds and exceptional layers, providing 5 weeks per week. Both have reputations for being excellent mothers, something we are missing in our flock. Sam was in Arkansas for his grandmother’s funeral so I made the trip solo. The drive there was fine but I spent the last hours back driving through snow. I am happy to say that my snow driving skills are coming along nicely and, though it was a bit nerve racking, it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. The worst part was carrying the chicks from the car parked at the top of the hill down the driveway to the house. I was so nervous I was going to slip and drop them! I set everything up the night before so I could just come straight in and take care of them. When you first bring chicks home, you have to move fast. They need to stay very warm so you provide them with a heat source.  Next, you need to dip their beaks in water and let them drink for a bit. Then, they get their food and they’re good to go for a bit. Well, I was watching all the birds and realized the smallest chick, a Dominique, wouldn’t open her eyes. She wasn’t eating or drinking and was uncoordinated. I talked to the hatchery but struck out there. Luckily, there’s the internet and plenty of chicken folks posting about problems. One case, the chick’s eyes were crusted together so she gently wiped the chick’s eyes with warm water until the chick could open them. Unfortunately, this didn’t work. In the end, I separated her from the other 8. (At this point, I still had 5 we picked up for one of Sam’s coworkers, Nate.) I mixed some blackstrap molasses into her water and kept dipping her beak into it. I added water to the chick starter crumbles and a bit of plain yogurt on Nate’s suggestion. She still wasn’t drinking so I would dip my fingertip into the water and then place the drop on her beak. Eventually, she leaned back against the side of the bin and would open her beak for the water. I tried smearing the food mix on her beak and she ate a couple, tiny bits but wasn’t very interested. She fell asleep and I had to as well since I had work the next morning. I got up once during the night to give her some more water. We keep an electrolyte powder on hand for the chickens, which would have been better than just the molasses water, but I couldn’t find it. After a quick trip to Tractor Supply and a couple days of nursing, she has made a full recovery and, man, she is such a little brat now. She loves to walk across the feeder when the other chicks are eating. When they’re sleeping, she’ll run and jump on them to wake everyone up and she likes to peck at everyone’s beaks. I originally was going to name her Baby but decided 1) I shouldn’t name them without Sam being there and 2) she looks like she’s wearing a mask so she should probably have a superhero name. In the second picture, you can see her little mask and that little bit on the end of her beak is her egg tooth.IMG_4194 IMG_4200Here’s the second Dominique. When Nate came to pick up his birds, 5 Dominiques, I chose her to be our other one. (I had already bonded with the tiny one while nursing her so she was definitely staying.) I picked her since her markings were the most different from the small one. The small one has the large spot on her head and a darker face while this girl has  tiny spot on the head and more markings on her face. She’s very alert and curious, already looking for things to roost on, and her wing feathers are the longest. When I put my hand in, she always jumps on and tries to climb up my arm. I’ll put my arms next to each other but a few inches apart and she jumps back and forth. Quite calm right from the get go, she fell asleep in my hand on the first night after roosting on my thumb for a bit.IMG_4184 IMG_4191The Australorps haven’t shown as much personality yet. They both eat a lot, which is to be expected since they’ll be large birds. They’ll actually be the largest hens of our flock which is fun to think about since they’re so small now. Their butts are super fluffy and they haven’t adjusted to be handled as well as the Dominiques. One is super mellow and has beautiful markings. She’s the larger of the 2 and really likes to hang out with the larger Dominique. She won’t start any mischief but, if another of the chicks annoys her, she will push them out of the way.IMG_4206 IMG_4209The last Australorp gal is very shy. She likes to shove under the other ladies hang out in the corners but she is still so cute! She reminds me of a little penguin. She doesn’t like the camera too much so there’s only one picture of this little lady.IMG_4207There’s our new ladies but, don’t worry, we’ll be getting 4 more this Wednesday. It will be Amereraucanas up next. Can’t wait to see what those ladies look like! Also, super pumped since Sam will be going with me this time. I think we’re going to make a day of it and maybe swing into Raleigh, NC. I’ve never visited so I would like to get sightseeing in since we’ll be in the area. Maybe we’ll have some names for these ladies soon. Any suggestions?

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