Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Taming the Wild Chicks

Each year I like to get a few new pullets because they will continue to lay through the winter, the older hens will go through a molt late in the year and it takes all their energy to regrow those lost feathers so usually they won't start laying eggs till spring. I also lose a few hens every year, either to old age, predators or illness, sometimes I don't know the reason. Just a short time ago, I found Midge, my Speckled Sussex hen, Chet's bride, dead in the coop, laying there with her eyes closed as though she was asleep. She was not old, nor sick. This is Chet, who was deposed as the ruler earlier this year by the little half-pint Serama, Larry, Jr.

You can't predict what will go on the chicken coop.

The three chicks that the Little Red Frizzle Hen adopted belong to my sister, Rosanne, and will eventually go to live at her house. That is, if the little red hen ever decides to cut them loose, right now she is a helicopter parent.

I wasn't in any hurry to get chicks, then Rosanne called me from her daughter, Carri's, Bomgaars, we have to distinguish between Carri's Bomgaars, our niece, Nancy's, Bomgaars and our Bomgaars, who aren't big on chicks. They never get anything really cute, mostly the sign will say 'Brown Egg Layers' so you never really know what you are getting. Back to my phone call, Rosanne said Carri's Bomgaars has lots of really cute chicks, Speckled Sussex, that made my ears perk up, Iowa Blue, Blue Wyandott and others, then she went on to talk about how cute the little ducks and geese are but she lost me there. With my backyard pond, I'm not getting any ducks or geese.

That was Saturday afternoon, did I want to run to Sioux City to buy some chicks? Let me think about it. As I thought about it, I realized my other sister, Sara, was coming here, through Sioux City the next day. So I fired off an email, asking her to get me 1 Speckled Sussex, 2 Iowa Blue and 1 Blue Wyandott. She replied that she would.

On Monday morning Sara called that the Ia Blue's were straight run, not pullets and that means I had a good chance of getting another rooster, not an option. So I changed my list to 2 Speckled Sussex and 2 Blue Wyandotts. 

And I waited. While I waited, I set the chick crib back up in the laundry room, filled the feeder and waterer and waited. They were so cute!

(Sara called me a chicken@#$! for not going to buy my own chicks but I knew I would probably exceeded my allotted room in the coop.)

I love the sounds of the chicks scratching and the "Whit, whit, whit," of their conversations with each other.

But baby chicks can be rather spastic, they don't love to be cuddled, in fact they hate to be cuddled. No matter how much I stood and talked to them, as soon as I'd reach in to re-fill the feed or, heaven forbid, change the paper, they went ballistic.

Every summer we have an influx of flies and they love the kitchen, I have no idea where they come from, there are no holes in any screens, I often wonder if they hatch and come out of the basement. But they drive me CRAZY!! I was wielding the fly swatter when I just damaged one, he could still move. I took it back to the chick crib and dropped it in, the fly fluttered and the two Speckled Sussex dove on him. YUM!

So I swatted and carried the bodies back to the chicks and soon they were watching for me...

"Got any flies on you?"

...much excitement when my hand appeared with fly bodies, at first it was just the Speckled Sussex.

So I held back those two greedy chicks and offered the treats to the Blue Wyandott's, at first they were shy but soon were gobbling them down.

I had no idea that ridding my kitchen of flies could be so much fun....

....and create such goodwill to my little girls.

If there is only one fly, the first chick to grab it then has to retain her prize and it's not easy. She runs and the others are in hot pursuit, the fly might change beaks several times before disintegrating. It gets pretty wild.

I dropped an egg on the floor accidentally so scrambled it to feed back to the chickens, they go crazy over it. You never want to feed a raw egg to the chickens because that can lead to egg eating. I thought if the chicks loved the flies so much, they would also love scrambled egg, I was wrong!

When chicks are disturbed they have a high pitched "EEEEEEEEE!" I mashed up the cooled egg, put it in an empty cottage cheese lid and set in the bottom of the chick crib. They all raced over at the sight of my hand, took one look at the contents in the lid, screamed "EEEEEEEEE!" and raced to the other end of the tub.

Maybe it seemed a little sick to them, after all, in other circumstances that scrambled egg could have been a sibling. 

Kind of like cannibalism?

I guess I would have screamed also.


  1. Yes, I was still trying to make the connection between liking dead flies and scrambled thought that would have been obvious because.....?????

  2. I just know how crazy the grown chickens are over scrambled egg, figured the babies would too, I was very wrong!