Recently I asked Chris for a word to describe us raising our baby chicks in a Chick-fil-A box, I expected something similar to "ironic." He replied, "predestination." Oh my!
When we began producing more of our own food, I finally connected why baby chicks are such a popular decoration at Easter. Until then, I thought they were a cute part of the season, like Santa. Now I know they show up this time of year because it's time to raise them if you want fresh eggs before the summer is over! Trust me, they're easy, and they produce protein that is much more colorful than traditional store-bought eggs.
It's baby chick time! Chris and I got four chicks last weekend from Atwood's in Andover. (They're also available at Tractor Supply Company.) Keeping chicks, and chickens, is actually surprisingly easy - if they weren't there's no way I'd have them with a baby due in 11 days. There's a ton of info online about how to raise them, here's one quick guide, and a simple Google search will provide about everything you need to know. Even so, let me share a few things we learned through our first experience last year:
1. When you pick them out, watch them for a few minutes to learn their personalities. I thought a chicken was a chicken, until Chris went to the store alone last year to bring home our third chick. He chose the one who ran across the tub and jumped on all the others. Turns out this chick was just as tough and comical when it became a full grown chicken.
2. They learn to respond when you call, much like cats, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty." When I dug up a grub while gardening, I'd yell, "Here chicken, chicken, chicken," and they would barrel toward me, knowing they were about to get something tasty.
Spend time with them when they're young if you want to be able to catch them when they are older. Last year, when we knew we would be gone after sunset, we would put the ladies in their coop. Unfortunately, we didn't spend enough time holding our chicks when they were young, so every time we wanted them in the coop before sunset, we had to chase them around the back yard to catch them. This year we're *trying* to create tamer chickens, a task that would be much easier if we had children who enjoy cuddling the little girls.
4. They get ugly fast. To the left is a pic of the chicks a day after we got them, fuzzy and cute with only a few wing feathers. The pic at the top is of them less than a week later. They've already gotten a lot more feathers, and while they're still cute, soon they'll have feathers sticking randomly up off their heads and bodies. So, enjoy them when you first get 'em. But, cuteness isn't the point now, is it.
5. They're just chickens. Trust me, learn from my experience and don't get attached.