Chickens! Those feathery creatures that provide us with delicious eggs, and meat that goes with almost anything. It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year already since we started our adventures with these fascinating animals. We had been daydreaming about getting some for quite a while but we needed to move out to the country first. What we never counted on was falling head over heels for them. I mean, really, they're just chickens! We started out with 8 little, day old babies, on the first day that tractor supply had them in. I was ecstatic! And the kids just couldn't get enough of them once they got home from school. Within two weeks, we were up to 12. They were hilarious to watch and gave hours, literally, hours of entertainment. Not only had we fallen in love with the tiny balls of fluff, but they had started bonding with us too, happily sitting on our shoulders or letting us hold them.
They were 3 weeks old when disaster struck. There's a slight problem when you have dogs and chicks in the house at the same time. Especially when one of them, a Siberian husky, has a HUGE prey drive. I thought our brooder was secure. It was 2 large dog crates connected together. I left the house for 5 minutes to fill a bird feeder and returned to disaster. The dogs managed to break into the brooder and kill every one of our chicks that we had bonded so well with. Now, I'm one of those people who gets attached VERY easy. The kids cried for a day or so. Me, I bawled....for 3 days. It was hard to believe how attached I was to a bunch of fuzzy balls with legs. It was only about a week before we decided to try again and this time we made big changes. The brooder was moved to the bedroom, and the dogs weren't allowed in. We learned our lesson.
Now there's this thing called chicken math. The first time I heard that, I had no idea what it was and honestly, paid very little attention to it. Basically, chickens are addicting, and you're going to get more than you thought, so prepare for extra. Our second time around, we ended up with 17. Somehow, 14 didn't sound like enough this time. Chicks grow remarkably fast. By 6 weeks old, they had outgrown the double dog crate brooder that we had inside. Since they weren't fully feathered yet, they weren't quite ready for outside living (not like we had the coop done yet anyway!) so I threw together a brooder in the garage. Nothing fancy, just some scrap plywood pieces in a big square next to an outlet for the heat lamp.
This worked perfectly for the next 6 weeks until we could get them outside. Technically, they could've gone out at 8 weeks old but we're procrastinators and the coop wasn't ready for them on time. But the coop is a whole different story for another day. That was quite an adventure there!