Don’t Count Your Chicks

10-week old “Farmyard Mix” Chickabiddies

Tomorrow is moving day.  True Love Farm, just down the road, will be the new home for our 10- and 14-week old chicks to help fill CSA shares with fresh eggs this upcoming year.

It has been an interesting journey, thus far, for this flock.  The 14-week olds had a horrible, tragic experience when they were less than one day old.  We had tucked them safely into their brooder box after hatching and found them all drenched and drowned or nearly drowned the next morning.  Unbeknownst to us, the waterer that we had put in with them had a leak and had filled the plastic box gradually, and by morning it was a swimming pool.  It still seems miraculous that about 30, of 40, were able to be resuscitated and survived.

We had to incubate more to try to make up for the loss.  When this next group hatched out, they experienced an unidentified malady in their barn stall at about 6 weeks old.  We weren’t sure why 5 seemingly healthy chicks were becoming weak and dying and we quickly added electrolytes to the water, hoping to strengthen the remaining flock to fight off whatever had befallen them.

However, more heartbreak in the upcoming weeks was a result of “picking” between the two groups of chicks as we gradually integrated them.  The older birds were scarily mad with bullying the younger group and it seemed we could not segregate and rescue them quickly enough. We lost 4 chicks in what felt like 1992 Los Angeles in the barn. We created a “hospital stall” which allowed 5 patients that did survive to heal, coating their badly bloodied bodies with ointment after peroxide baths.  After about a week, feathers started to grow again and energy returned to the poor little babes.

Seemingly overnight, the bullies found other hobbies and the quarreling stopped.  The flocks were finally integrated and thriving, free-ranging the pastures, woods and surrounds of the barn.

Since the order was for layer hens, 10 roosters went into the freezer last Friday.

It was time for a final assessment.  One little chick has “bumble foot” which is a genetic-defect that occurs now and then.  She can go with the others if the farm wants her, but if they do not, then she will have a home here.

The order is for 50 pullets.  We attempted to tally. The flock has a tendency to move around and come out of or go into hiding just when you’ve almost finished counting heads but we thought there were 30ish hens.

And then 2 more crowed.

“I’m bigger than you!”

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. “Seemingly overnight, the bullies found other hobbies and the quarreling stopped. The flocks were finally integrated and thriving, free-ranging the pastures, woods and surrounds of the barn.”

    I love the words above for their wise and metaphorical potential … substitute flock with schools, neighborhoods, families, counrties, cultures….. of course the bullies would be of the human variety.

    1. Thank you, astute and wise woman. It is absolutely true that you can draw parallels between the barnyard lessons and our daily life lessons. I can honestly say that I can relate to all of the animals here on the farm, in their various moods, behaviors, and characteristics. That’s why it is never easy to “cull” and in fact, many of our roosters do stay on!
      There is a great blog recently written by “Brave Fish” ( which talks about depression and the cultures in which it is present. It reminds me of the old adage “busy hands are happy hands” which translates to the flock, too! Busy beaks are happy beaks!
      Thanks for the visit, Lucy!

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