Today is the first full day of Spring, and it’s already off to a beautiful start!
At 6:30 this morning, I got a call from the Blacksburg post-office, telling me that my chicks had arrived, and that I had better pick them up as possible. Yes, the chicks were in the mail : )
When the lady handed the box to me at the post office, I had to get down on my knees and think “Thank you.” I could hear little mysterious cheeps and tweets escaping from this magic box. I turned up the heat in my car, and drove them back up the mountain as gently as possible up our rugged dirt road.
As soon as I got home, I woke up Maureen and Timmy. We excitedly hurried to the Octagon house to make a new home for our babies! Maureen laid a cardboard box with paper shreds (Courtesy of the Language and Culture Institute) as I hooked up the heat lamp and chopped up fresh veggies. Timmy cooked us a nice breakfast of fresh eggs (ironic, yes) and asparagus.
The chicks had been traveling in the US Postal service for the past two days. They have never had anything to eat or drink in their lives. Instead, they are living off nutrients from the yolk of the egg until they arrive in the mail. We therefore needed to give them their first drink.
In order to help them understand the idea of drinking and eating, we acted as mother hens. Each of us took a chick from the mailing box and gently put its beak in the water feeder until we saw it start to guzzle. We added some homemade apple cider vinegar to the water (to add electrolytes) as well as some garlic (for its antibiotic properties).
We gave them “free choice” of unmedicated chick starter feed from Blacksburg Feed and Seed as well as fresh vegetable scraps. As recommended by Harvey Ussery (The Martha Stewart of Chickens), its important to offer chicks fresh vegetables, grass, and dirt from day 1, just as a mother hen would. In the long-run, chickens that forage and eat a diverse diet of living foods are healthier than those that are fed chicken feed exclusively.
Maureen and I then sat around our little chicks, watching them until we needed to head off to work. Each chick has their own personality, and I look forward to getting to know each of our girls on a deeper level. We have 15 layer hens, all Rhode Island Reds, which are supposed to be great dual-purpose birds (as in good, for laying and for meat) that are resilient free-range foragers.
Today will be an exciting day, as Maureen and I will head over to a local farm to check out some old beehives. Our bee nucs will be arriving in about a month and we’ll see what we can reuse. We’re also hoping that if there is still a live hive there we could transport it to Crow Forest Farm.
This weekend, the Rock the Blocks Music Festival will kick off in Blacksburg. Director Dennis Chang filmed some exploding fruit at our farm last weekend. He also let me smash some watermelons outside our barn. Very cathartic, and I got some great fruit salad to boot! Check out his spectacular video here:
I’ll be volunteering at the Rock the Blocks Music Festival main office this weekend, checking out shows when I can take a break. Please check out some awesome local bands playing in Blacksburg, including Atoka Chase and Orbit Eyes. Schedule is here: