Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Septuplets...Diary of a First-Time Chicken Mom

5:30 am – Alarm goes off, rise and shine, why did I ever think this was a good idea?

Throw on some blue jeans, tennis shoes, sweater over my jammy top.

Clean off the top of the dog crate, carry it into the kitchen, and begin preparations to turn it into a chicken brooder.

Vacuum and wipe it out – check

Pine shavings – check

Covered with paper towels – check

Make up water solution of water, electrolyte/vitamin mix, and apple cider vinegar. Notice it looks a lot like lemonade. Make mental note to alert family.

Fill water dish – check

Fill feeder – check

Scatter some feed on the paper towels – check

Hang heat lamp – check – wait, not check, there's no clamp on this stupid thing! Wrap the cord around a kitchen chair til it's the right height – check

Go outside to get chicken wire to cover the brooder – check

Come back inside, put the chicken wire in place, check the phone to see if anyone has called – check

6:35 am – Still no phone call from the Post Office – where are they?!?!?

Go back outside to get another piece of chicken wire, 2 pieces wasn’t enough, is that the phone I hear ringing?, listen harder, no, it's not – check

Come back inside to put 3rd piece of chicken wire in place – check

Check phone for messages again – beep beep beep – it was a phone call, there's a message! Could it be? Who else would be phoning at 6:44 in the morning?!?!?

Get in the car to drive to Post Office. Make a mental note to turn on the heater once the car is warmed up so it'll be nice and toasty for the chicks.

Get halfway there and realize I should have brought camera to take a photo of the chicks with their 'delivery nurse.' Consider turning around and going back. Decide against it.

Glance at speedometer. Three miles over the speed limit. Put the car on cruise control.

Arrive at Post Office and knock on blue door. Here they come!

Cheeping is not as loud as I expected. Are they all there? Open box to count them – yup, septuplets, just as planned.

Belt them into the front seat for the ride home. 2 points for being such a good chicken mommy.

Drive home with cruise control. Cheeping is very loud now. Sort of annoying in fact.

Arrive home, get out to open front gate, and realize I never turned the heater on. Deduct 2 points. Turn the heater on full blast for the final 100 feet to the driveway.

Carry the chicks into the house and set their box into the brooder. Get a clean soft rag and turn on the water to get it warm in case of pasty butt.

Start taking the chicks out of their box one by one, dipping their beaks in water, and checking for pasty butt. Discover chicks don't really like to be turned upside down.

They are very soft! No signs up pasty butt. All looks good.

Oh, wait, the last chick has a small case of pasty butt. Dab at it with warm water. Finally just pick it off with my fingernail. Smear a bit of Vaseline on her butt in case it happens again, it'll be easier to get off.

Put last chick into the brooder, get rid of shipping box, and wash my hands.

Go sit down in chair to look at chicks. Discover something under my fingernail. Wash hands again. Return to chair.

Look at chicks. Try and figure out which chick is which breed. Seven chicks, six breeds. Figure out which two are the buff orpringtons. I'm practically an expert.

Bring the dogs in to see the chickens. They are very interested. Too interested. Make them 'sit' when they are near brooder.

Attempt to take some photos. Discover chicks are even more uncooperative then children when it comes to posing. Give up after a few blurry photos of chicken behinds.

Take one of the dogs instead. Their eyes are glued to the chicks. No evidence of drooling or lip licking. Take that as a good sign.
Wonder why the chicks aren't taking any naps. Thought they napped often in between running around and pecking. Notice no sign of chicken poop. Maybe they are potty trained!

Watch chicks as they explore their brooder and interact with each other. Begin to feel the effects of early rising. Make cup of hot chocolate.

Back into chair to watch chicks some more. Still no poop. What great chickens! I love having chickens!

Oh, no, one of them is flopped on its side with its head on the towel. Is it dead? No, it's moving. Its little butt is swaying back and forth. I didn't know chickens laid their heads down. So cute!

Keep watching that chicken to make sure it's okay. It eventually gets up and wanders around. Another chick flops itself down for a quick nap.

Oh, dear, first sign of poop. I wonder which one did that. One out of seven not potty trained. Guess that isn't so bad.

Look around for something to do in the kitchen. Empty dish drainer. Come back to chair. Lots more poop. Sigh.

Phone rings. Husband is calling to say he forgot to take the garbage can out to the road. Today is pickup day. Can I do it? And put the kitchen garbage in there as well. Agree to do so and hang up quickly before he can hear chickens cheeping in the background and realize that after ten years of listening to me talk about chickens, the day he's been dreading has finally arrived. It's a beautiful day out. No sense spoiling it for him any sooner than necessary.

Close bedroom door to shut cat inside in case he decides to wake up from his nap on the middle of our bed. Get kitchen garbage and close kitchen door with the dogs on the outside. Take garbage out to the road. Come back inside. Count chickens and check to make sure they're all moving. The chicks and I have both survived their first time alone without a babysitter!

Ina B and Nina C, the buff orpingtons
Kenzie & Buddy are a rapt audience.
The chickies are lucky to have such great guard dogs!
Gracie in the center flanked by two as-yet-unnamed chickies.