A Different Kind of Baby (Chick) Book

This is a bantam Aurucana chick. See the adorable little cheek puffs and beard? Adorable.

Editor’s Note: B. Girard’s Midwest poultry raising season is well underway. She shared some photos and thoughts with us recently. Read more from B. Girard at http://pinchinglincoln.blogspot.com/.

We received our current set of teensy, tiny bantam (and standard-sized) chicks on March 25th, 2013. They were about a day old, and I took pictures!
No Boys Allowed
A bit about the chicks we received (numbers here): The one above, while I know that it’s an Aurucana and a Bantam, might be either a rooster or a hen, we won’t know until it either crows or lays an egg. Crowing, because we live on a scant acre in the city and have neighbours we would like to continue having a courteous relationship with, will be a death sentence. So as I look at these little peeps I encourage them to be girls.

Raise your own eggs, milk, meat! The Backyard Homestead is in stock now at Lehman's in Kidron and Lehmans.com.
Raise your own eggs, milk, meat! The Backyard Homestead is in stock now at Lehman’s in Kidron and Lehmans.com.

That’s the deal with farm animals, the males are largely superfluous eaters that are culled as soon as identified. What we farmers (full scale, urban, hobby or any other type you can think of) are interested in is largely what the females can provide: Babies and the byproducts. For chickens this clearly means eggs. Don’t need a rooster for that. Chickens will lay eggs without one. And these girls will. Sorry, dudes.

On to happier thoughts. If (please) this photogenic chick is a girl, she will lay blue/green eggs. (Sometimes, you hear folks calling Aurucana chickens Easter Eggers. One rarely hears serious chicken folks calling Aurucanas that.)
Because the Arucana in the photo is a bantam chick (they are about 1/4 to 1/3 the size of a normal chicken) her eggs will be smaller as well. So I am in fact looking forward to small, greenish-blue eggs from my tiny chickens.
Here’s a size comparison, bantam to a standard-breed chick, same age:

That right there, by the way is another Aurucana Bantam, next to a Black Jersey Giant. The Jersey Giants start out normal sized and then just keep growing and growing and growing until they are the largest chicken to be had. These guys lay large brown eggs. We picked up some Barred Rocks too (the stripy black and white chickens like on that book cover to the right). The Rocks and Giants we have are all girls, so no worries there.
See those fuzzy legs sticking out? This unidentified bantam chick (be a girl!) is going to feather out to be a poofy ball of feathers, including the feet.

And these guys lay small eggs, too. I think right about September I’ll have to do a post about the 9 egg omelette!
Here’s the deal: Having our own chickens is not the cheapest way for us to get eggs on the table. And it’s certainly not the easiest. Part of what we are doing here at Pinch Manor is not just about bang for buck, even though that is important, but about quality.
Weigh eggs and feed with this retro charmer. Jiffy Way Egg Scale in stock now at lehmans.com
Weigh eggs and feed with this retro charmer. Jiffy Way Egg Scale, in stock now at lehmans.com

I mentioned in an earlier post that by slashing away at our budget and trying to be more self-sufficient we have found a lot of things that we enjoy doing. Having chickens is one of those. They are fun, not all that hard to take care of and provide us with delicious eggs that are better than anything I can buy, along with the firm knowledge that these are happy, pampered, healthy chickens.

The Chicken Encyclopedia can help you pick the perfect breed. In stock now at Lehman's!
The Chicken Encyclopedia can help you pick the perfect breed. In stock now at Lehman’s!

I’ll do a post about the how-tos and approximate cost of raising these chicks to laying age and an amortization of how many eggs I will have to get out of them before we are in the black for them. But to be completely honest with all of you, I have already gotten enough laughs out of these little fuzzballs to make up for the $45 our electric bill jumped from running the heat lamp in their incubator for a solid month.

They play keep-away with each other, they cuddle, they fluff up at each other, they fall over and pretend it didn’t happen, they are simply adorable and we don’t get that from a box of grocery store eggs. Not to mention that these gals lay eggs that are so much better than what I can buy that we have practically stopped eating market-bough eggs since our flock was killed last year by a marauding dog that belonged to a neighbor.
I’ll leave you with a pic of sleepy, day old chicks, basking in the glow of the heat lamp:

Look for more chick posts soon! I am completely overwhelmed by ‘teh cute’ right now.
Happy Pinching!
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