Wednesday, April 07, 2021
Well, I did it! My feathered family has grown by two beautiful, brand new, baby Buff Orpington chicks. They are Amelia Egghart and Layla. They are the sweetest little peepers but were a bit of a challenge to come by!
I have been wanting to lighten up my flock for a while now and have been researching chicken breeds in the color palette I was looking for. Hybrids (mixed breeds) are generally the best laying hens but Heritage (purebreds) live longer and breed true if allowed to reproduce. Heritage are also generally more broody (likely to go into a set and be good mothers) if the opportunity arises. The jury is still out on whether I'll let them have chicks some day or not, but it might be fun. So, I wanted light colored hens to add some contrast to my current black and red flock. I researched and decided Buff Orpingtons were the ones for me. They have good personalities, are good layers, Heritage breed, and can tolerate the climate we live in well. They are bigger hens and a beautiful light golden color as adults. Perfect!
Once the decision was made I went on the hunt. All of the local feed stores have chicks in right now, but not a single solitary Buff Orpington was anywhere to be found. The local co-op had a batch that came in early March and sold out immediately. None of the other co-ops in neighboring towns had them either. I was told the hatchery was backed up and one co-op in a further away town was supposed to get 50 at the end of May, but then was also told it was a special order, which meant someone either wanted most of them or all of them, so my chances of getting any then were iffy at best. The tractor supply store had a huge supply of hybrid chicks, and even some White Leghorns, which I considered. Unfortunately, Leghorns are known to be smaller and flighty and I didn't want a breed that was likely to fly over my 6 foot fence, never to be seen again. Their smaller size may have not worked with the special chicken feeder I have since it requires a minimum weight to sufficiently compress the treadle and open the food door. So, what seemed like an eternity (actually 3 days) went by and I was coming up with nothing. I did find some at a local feed store but when I went to check them out they were about twice the size of the normal day old chicks I was looking for and the store employee couldn't even tell me whether they were straight run or had been sexed. (I need hens only- can't keep a rooster where I live now.) So that was a flop. Finally, as a last ditch effort I decided to check just outside my normal driving radius and look for feed stores down a little closer to the big city where people are less farmy and the competition for Buff Orpingtons might not be so hot. And sure enough, that was the answer! So I had to drive 25 miles to get them, but I got them! They were not pleased with the long ride home through rush hour traffic and screeped (scream-peeped) loudly most of the way. When I finally got them home and under the heat lamp they were exhausted. They both laid down flat with their tiny necks stretched out straight and slept for quite a while. They looked just pitiful. But now, 4 days later, they are bright eyed and bushy tailed peeping around doing all the chick stuff chicks do. I brought them into the living room and Amelia thought scratching at the carpet was something to try. Those tiny chick legs just crazily scratching away at man made flooring made us all chuckle. Apparently babies don't need their mamas to teach them how to do that- it's inborn!
So that's my thrill of the week...Happiness is Spring chicks!