Spring has finally arrived! Hurray! I’m sure I’m not alone in my excitement that warm sunny days, green grass, and budding trees and flowers are once again making their yearly debut. That’s one of the things I love most about living in Michigan. Even though the arrival of each of the seasons is sometimes hard to predict, you definitely know when each one has arrived. With a few late March/early April cold, snowy days, it seemed that winter was going out kicking and screaming. But I for one am glad to see it go. Good-bye, so long, see you next year, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Nothing else says spring to me more than the appearance of cheeping little balls of baby chick fluff. In case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a bit of a chicken lover. Okay. I admit. Let’s just put it out there. I’m a crazy chicken lady, and I was so excited when our local feed store called to tell me that my five little baby buffs (Orpingtons, that is) had arrived. This year’s adventures in chick brooding is different in two ways. First, we’re hoping this will be our last year of mail order chicks. And second, this is our first year of brooding the babies in the coop where they belong. As much as I love chickens, if you have ever raised chicks in your house, you totally know where I’m coming from. The smell and the chicken dander is enough to drive a person completely bonkers. The first week or so is always pretty easy going. They are so little and cute. Then they get bigger. And noisier. And they start losing their soft, fluffy down. And it starts accumulating. Everywhere! And they start trying to roost. Everywhere!
Well, this year is different. My amazing husband built a brooder area on the chicken coop. It extends around the end and partially along one side in an “L” shape. It is snug and insulated, and the babies love it. They can even see into the main coop and check out the grown up chickens without getting pecked to death. I know there will still be an adjustment period of trying to introduce them to the flock when they are ready for the transition to the big coop, but at least they can slowly get to know each other before that day gets here.
So why did we pick Buff Orpingtons? Well, our plan is that these little girls will grow up to be awesome broody Mama hens. Certain breeds are more likely to brood chicks than other breeds, Orpingtons being one of them. Even some of the traditional breeds, like the Barred Rocks we have, no longer have as much of the broody instinct that they use to. Hatcheries have bred the setting trait out of them, in preference of greater egg productivity. Just another sad scenario in our society that is so focused on more, more, more!
Here are a few “in progress” pics and also of the chicks enjoying the new space. One of the best parts of this project was that we didn’t have to go out and buy anything to build it. Tim was able to get leftover plywood and Styrofoam sheets from work. Now we just need to figure out what to have him build with all the leftovers from the leftovers.