Lesson 541 – No patter of tiny feet for us this year

This is going to be the first spring in 3 years that we aren’t going to have chicks in the house. No tiny peeping from the mudroom and none of that stinky organic odor as they grow, eat, and poop in their crates until they are old enough to go outside. I think we’re going to find that we will miss all that.

I realized this when I saw that Charlie’s baby waterer and feeder (plastic bottles attached to a red base) had been put in a box to be stored away with our other chick equipment kept in waiting until needed. Charlie is a big girl now, she eats from a converted casserole dish (deep sides so that she doesn’t splatter her food all over the place) and shares her water-drinking with the dog in the community bowl.

Yup, there will be no little peepers for us this year. As it is, we have a total of 35 chickens and although 7 of them are bantams of which some are the size of fat pigeons, and one lives in the house, it still makes for a full henhouse. As much as I would like to get more chickens, unless we enlarge the henhouse (and we’d rather send our kids to college, thank you very much) we are going to have to put new chicks on hold.

Of course we are still looking forward to a single new Black Copper Maran juvenile (already named Verruca) sometime this summer to be a playmate for Charlie but other than her, our flock is in lockdown.

We have had remarkably little turnover in our flock. None of our chickens have been taken out by predators and the very few (total of 4 over the years) that have died (not counting the roosters we coned) we think were the result of impacted eggs. None of them appeared sick, we would just go out and find them under the henhouse dead. I have yet to do an autopsy on any of our dead birds but a working hypothesis of impaction works for me.

You expect some of your flock to turnover. They are outside all winter long, they lay eggs almost every day, they eat things they find in the ground, there is a lot of opportunity for misfortune. It’s just natural that there are things out there that are going to get them.

But on the other hand, if they are protected, if they are given enough food and water with supplementation from your kitchen scraps, if the henhouse is well maintained, you aren’t going to lose that many. You’re going to find that your chickens will live on from one year to the next.

So it is both a blessing and a curse that this year there will be no tiny balls of fluffy mischief in our house. And although we aren’t going to have any chicks, Charlie still lives in the house so I think that technically, that still makes us covered.

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10 Comments

Filed under chicken care, Chicks, Personal, Roosters

10 responses to “Lesson 541 – No patter of tiny feet for us this year

  1. No chicks for us this season either! Seems weird. Taking a little break from the work and hoping my small flock will carry us through till next spring. I’ll get chicks in October, till then I’ll be working on a new chicken yard and coop.

    • Wendy Thomas

      It does seem strange not having chicks, almost like an important part of the season (seeing the first Robin, lilacs, and plant shoots) is missing.

      Chicks in October, eh? that would mean a winter of chicks living in our house until the spring, not sure I’d be up to that! Such are the benefits of not living in the Northeast.

      Wendy

  2. It like not having little kids around the house!

  3. Hey sis–so how long with these chickens lay eggs and then how long do they live after that? A friend was interested in backyard chickens but thought that they would only lay for a few years and then she would have a bunch of birds with no eggs. You might want to write a bit about the other side of life for those of us who are clueless. Great job on the articles this weekend in the Concord Monitor!

    • Wendy Thomas

      Peg,

      I’ve written about this but it always comes up at my workshops so its probably worth another post. Depending on the breed, most chickens will lay for about 3-4 years. At that point you need to make the decision of whether to keep the “old hen” or put her in the pot, as it were. A well cared for chicken can live up to 7-9 years.

      As for us, we’ve made the decision to let all of our birds happily live out their retirements in our back yard.

      Wendy

  4. Linda Farrell Mitchell

    We have 18 chicks in the brooder, and 6 ducklings on the way. Will be a fun summer to say the least. Our grandaughter will be here in 2 weeks for a few days will be fun to see her play with them for a few days!

    • Wendy Thomas

      oh indeed what fun! We haven’t tried ducks yet, that might be on our list to things to add at some point.

      Wendy

  5. It sounds like this is going to be tough. Almost empty-nest syndrome. :)

    • Wendy Thomas

      OMG, you’re right! It is a bit like I’m going through empty nest syndrome except that unlike with kids, I can get more chicks next year and it doesn’t commit me to years of diapers (unless of course I decide to raise them in the house like I am doing with Charlie.)

      Wendy

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