Yesterday chickens arrived in the mail. Actually, the post office called and said, "Your chickens are here. Please come pick them up."
When I arrived at the post office, it was closed, but as soon as I walked into the post office box area I could hear 'cheeping'. The post office lady opened the door and said, "Are you here for the chickens?"
I said, "Yes, I am here for the chickens".
The post office lady disappeared behind the door and returned shortly after with a box with holes in it that was cheeping excitedly. I asked her if this was a common occurrence here in my small town, and she said, "Yes, we get chickens coming through here all the time."
"How exciting!" I replied. I thanked the post office lady, and with my box of chickens in hand, made my way for my car like a running back looking for the goal line. I was worried that the rapid snap of cold we would encounter once I opened the post office door until we made it to the car would be traumatic for the chicks, so I rushed as quickly and as nimbly as I could.
We made it to the car unscathed, and the cheeps were now almost deafening. They seemed to be cheeping in unison as to somehow collectively increase the decibel of their cheeps. It was working. With each collective cheep, I could feel my eardrums twinge in pain. Perhaps they were thanking me for getting them through the cold so quickly, or maybe they were clueless and were scolding me for exposing them to cold period. I don't know.
When I arrived home, I quickly took them into the house, and placed the cheeping box on the kitchen counter. Then I ran outside to the dog house and collected a large armful of hay (yes, there was hay in the dog house .. or it is straw?) and made my way to the garage where the dog kennel was waiting patiently. I covered the kennel floor with hay/straw (and/or straw/hay) and filled a chicken watering contraption, and placed it inside. Then I fetched a heat lamp and hung it from the inside of the kennel. Then I went back into the kitchen and got the chickens.
When I brought the cheeping box into the garage, I placed it into the kennel, got my cell phone out, enabled the phone's camcorder, and started recording. I wanted to capture the chicks first encounter with their new home. With phone in hand, I opened the box. Inside, tightly compacted were 27 little chicks all cheeping in unison. There were 8 yellow chicks, 10 orange-ish ones, 8 brown with black stripes, and one bonus chick that was orange-ish brown with a dark head. Amazingly, there were no dead bodies among this group, but not long after (less than an hour), the first casualty occurred. One of the brown with black stripes chicks faded away. Poor guy. This color combination seemed to be the weakest in the bunch, because even the next morning, two more were dead (and happily being trampled by the rest of the bunch!). My thoughts reassured me of nature's plan... survival of the fittest. If you can't cheep the cheep, then all your kennel mates will use you as a cushion under their feet.
Once they were getting acclimated to their new home, I began by introducing them to the concept of water. One by one, I took their little heads and dunked their beaks into the watering container. It was rather amusing to watch. They went through a transition of initial shock, then slight head shakes to rid themselves of the excess water, then the realization of the immediate thirst-quenching benefits of this substance called water. Before I knew it, the crowd of chicks around the watering container was so dense that it was dangerous. Weaker chicks were being trampled. Others were happily dunking their beaks, then lifting their heads in joy as they gurgled the water down. It was like a chick celebration.
The next thing to do was to introduce the feed. I place a small piece of paper into the kennel, and placed some feed on it. This made the feed easier to see for these new little lives. Again, before I could blink, chicks were crowding over the food and pecking and scratching with glee. The noise was congested with the sounds of pecks, scratches, and cheeps. It was almost musical, but at the same time, maddening.
Eventually, I realized the temperature wasn't hot enough, so I placed all the chicks into a large terrarium and placed them in my office with the heat lamp and water. This is going to have to be a short term solution, because I realized this morning that my working conditions would be compromised by the smell of chicks and chick poop. Luckily, these little buggers grow fast.
That's it for me now. This is a long post, but I had to get it out. I will post pictures and links to the initial video as well. The video is less entertaining, because I am limited to 15 second clips on the phone.