Back in April my mom got her annual spring order of baby chickies! She picked them up at Blue Seal when they were only a day or two old. Their box had a US Mail label on it – so crazy that you can send baby chickens in the mail! They were postmarked from Idaho. In the box were fourteen little Silver-Laced Wyandotte chicks, peeping and scratching and peering up at us. For the first few weeks they lived inside the house, in a big cardboard box filled with sawdust, then they moved up to a bigger cardboard box with a roost and a tree branch in it.
After a few weeks they got to move outside into the big girls’ chicken coop! We’ve had an annual problem with foxes raiding the coop and carrying away our chickens, so each year my parents have to upgrade security on the hen-house. Last year they re-built the whole chicken coop entirely, and it is pretty much a high-security luxury chicken palace. Before they could move in, we had to finish shingling the roof and staple hardware cloth all over the ventilation holes to keep out sneaky rodents. The first day they were happy scratching and running all around the fenced-in yard, they’d never had so much space before and they had to try out their wings, making crazy flapping leaps and jumps all over the place. It’s a little bit sad because at that age they are little tiny birds with big wings and they can almost fly, and you can see them thinking “whoa, this is awesome.” But then as they keep growing, their wing-to-body ratio just gets worse and they will be stuck on the ground like the rest of us. Poor little gals.
Anyway, the first night, it started to get dark and they were all out in their yard and didn’t know how to get themselves back inside the chicken house, and they were all settling down to sleep underneath their house, or in the tall weeds around it. We had to go out and chase them and grab them and put them up inside their house, one by one. Chasing fourteen tiny squealing chickens around through waist-high weeds in the dim twilight is really really hard, it took us nearly an hour to grab each one and put them all to bed. Happily they’ve learned to put themselves to bed now. They all sleep in a big snuggly heap most nights, or sometimes a few sleep on the roost like grown-up birds. They’re still little but they look like small adults now, some have tiny red combs and wattles and they’ve all got grown-up feathers instead of fuzz. Judy says we could expect them to start laying their first eggs in the fall.