Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I had expected to put up a very brief post called "anticipation" with a photograph of the empty, prepared brooder:
But at 8:00, having heard nothing from the Post Office, I called over there myself. They are supposed to call when they have a box of live chicks, so the recipient can go pick them up. But they didn't last year and our bemused mail carrier simply appeared at the door with a peeping box the day after the chicks were shipped out. Given that the PO doesn't officially open until 9, I was impressed that anyone answered the phone at 8. I told Brenda that I was expecting a delivery of live chicks and wondered whether they had any. "We do have some," she said, and I could tell by her tone that it was no mystery to anyone in the PO that there were, in fact, baby chicks in a box, probably peeping their little heads off. I could barely contain myself, but I asked when I could go pick them up. "Our window opens at nine," she said. "I can't get them any earlier?" (pleading) "Well...tell me your address so we can make sure they're yours." And then, having put me on hold and returned to confirm they were my chicks, she offered that I could come to the PO Box drop and ring the bell and they'd hand them over even before nine.

Then, after consuming a leisurely breakfast, performing a complete regimen of morning ablutions and ensuring my hair and makeup were perfect...

Of course not! Leaving my coffee half-drunk and breakfast unconsumed, unwashed, unbrushed (hair and teeth) and dressed in whatever I managed to throw on, I dashed off to the PO to retrieve my babies. Hank, having dropped the kids at school, met me there. After ringing a couple of times and then calling on the phone, Brenda emerged to give me the once-over "we're probably going to need ID--you do have some, right?" and then our regular postman appeared with the peeping box, apologizing that he didn't have our regular mail ready yet (regular mail? what regular mail? and who cares???).

Holding the box, I could feel them moving about and the distinct pings of their beaks pecking on whatever it was they could peck. I placed the box on the seat next to me and drove purposefully home (not a good time for an accident or speeding ticket).

Once home, I set the box on the dining room table:
And then opened it...
more cardboard and nest-y stuff
You can't tell very well in this photo, but having removed the outer layer, I could see fuzzy heads through the holes in the box top. I was nervous about all five of them being in good shape and as I lifted the lid Hank observed with relief that they were all alive!
And indeed they are! Number 5 is hidden beneath/behind her sisters in this photo, but she is quite alive and well. If you look closely, you'll see that Number 1 and Number 4 (left to right in this pic) have a green and an orange smudge (respectively) on their heads. On the packing list, next to their breeds, someone hand-wrote "green" and "orange" presumably so we could differentiate them, although I don't find it all that confusing. This bunch did not have a heat pack, like last year's, but it did have a brick of green nutritional gel, which the girls barely put a dent in. Although the return address was for Chickens for Backyards in Boerne, Texas, the "shipped from" zip code showed that these girls came, as I expected, from our own Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, MO. You may recall that Max and I paid them a lovely visit last June.

One at a time, I lifted the chicks into the brooder, dipping each tiny beak in the water dish on the way in. Lifting them, I was impressed with just how slight they are. Barely any substance at all and practically weightless. But so full of life! All, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, checked out the water and food. And the gro-gel, because this time we had managed to remember to find the gro-gel before they arrived and I mixed up a little treat for them. And then they gathered into a little bunch and rested.
And now, just a couple hours later, they seem fully acclimated to their new digs, eating and drinking and inquisitively inspecting everything in range. 

This flock seems noisier than our last--or at least a couple of the girls are--and I'm considering names that reflect their particular aptitude. But that, and a discussion of the breeds I chose for this bunch, will have to wait for another post. 

Before I sign off for now, I just have to point out what a wonderful intersection this is: our new baby chicks arriving on the 17th birthday of the young man who will always be, in memory, my sweet 8-and-a-half pound, thick-haired baby boy. 

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