Friday, May 05, 2006

Dazed and Confused

My perfectionist nature makes it difficult for me to make important decisions. After all, what if I'm........WRONG?!!!! I dillied and dallied for weeks over ordering chickens......what kind? how many? etc etc etc........until finally we just went into the local feed store, grabbed some supplies off the shelves and placed and filled out an order form for ten pullets and two cockerels. Not much of a choice either. You either got Rhode Island Reds or some kind of hybrid with a weird name.........or the broilers which we decided to wait on for now. Hm. Decisions, decisions. This one took me about two seconds. We went with the Rhode Island Reds. I understand them to be a decent dual-purpose breed. Dwayne is not exactly enthusiastic about having roosters around but gee, if we want to have a sustainable flock, I'm pretty sure the eggs need to be fertilized. :) I think he'll get used to the's all part of the farm atmosphere, right? Anyway, they will be here on May 18, and I expect to be on here in a panic groveling and begging for advice from every agrarian who is more experienced in raising chicks than I. (That should cover just about every single person reading this.)

As the next two weeks progress, I know I will find myself tossing and turning at night, my head in a spin. What I'm most confused about is the information I've been reading. It seems to be so conflicting. This does not help my decision-making skills! Even the lady in the feed store gave me some different sets of instructions. And she was very cruel. She wouldn't even sell me a thermometer for the brooder. "Oh, you just watch how they act.....if they huddle in the middle it's too cold, if they scatter around the edges it's too hot." Aaargh! Isn't there a Chickens for Dummies book?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Emily!

Glad to see you posting again!

Best wishes on your "Great Chicken Adventure!!!!"

You'll do fine. Just remember that it's pretty darn hard to have a 100% survival rate. As a novice, a 90% survival rate is really good and 80% is more likely.

Please don't panic if you lose a few!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I'm going through the exact same thing! I'd decided on Buckeyes but the folks I ordered from don't think they'll get enough hatching simultaneously to fill my order of 25. They're a home based biz, not a huge breeder, so that's understandable.

So I looked at the few breeders that do sell Buckeyes and they're all sold out or have waiting lists :(

So I just ordered some Speckled Sussex. The RIR are one I was considering, also. The are dual purpose.

I'm fretting about the temps as well. I put a weather thermometer in the big cardboard box I'm going to be keeping the chicks in initially, and turned on my light bulbs. If I lie the thermometer down it says > 100 and if I stand it up, it says 75 or 80.

I think I'm just going to have to watch the chicks.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Herrick Kimball said...


It's great to hear that you are getting chickens for the first time. That is exciting! Rhode Island Reds are a fine breed. You are going to find that raising chicks is not nearly as complicated as you might think. It is so much fun to watch them grow up and then get your own eggs. And I'll bet Dwayne is not going to really mind the rooster crowing.... once he gets used to it.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Sweetpea said...

Hi Emily,
Congratulations on the exciting!
I think that you will do fine.
I can relate with you about the perfectionistic traits... it makes things much harder sometimes, doesn't it?

6:40 PM  
Blogger JFC said...

And she was very cruel. She wouldn't even sell me a thermometer for the brooder. "Oh, you just watch how they act.....if they huddle in the middle it's too cold, if they scatter around the edges it's too hot." Aaargh! Isn't there a Chickens for Dummies book?

Salatin's book is that ... although he is writing for a different market than what you are in; it would still be helpful, I expect.

About the advice of the lady at the store: I've read the same thing -- in the Salatin book, I think.

And finally, to mortality rates: My first batch had about 25% mortality rate, but most of that was in the brooder hut, and due to my own stupidity. And I was thrilled to have 75% survive on the first go-round.

Best wishes. I'm in the middle of re-designing my brooder hut roof right now, and hope to have chicks in it soon.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I just feel bad for the chicks that won't survive my clumsy attempts at raising them.

I originally wanted Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, and New Hampshire Reds but you can't get less than 25 if they're shipped through the mail so I had to settle for what we ordered. Funny thing, you'd think that they would have NH Reds instead of RI Reds being that we're in NH!

I have a tendency to complicate things no matter what it is! Seriously, we are so looking forward to this. Anna-Rose is counting down the days. Every morning the first statement out of her mouth is, "Only ..... (insert number)days until we get the chickens!!!!"

Thank you for your encouraging words. I've learned for the most part to use my perfectionism in positive ways - I'm a whiz at organizing - but it can be crippling at times.

I remember reading about your chick experiences while we were still in our tiny apartment dreaming about a home and land of our own, and here we are! :) I think I'll go back and read your old posts again. I do have Joel Salatin's book and found it helpful but since I'm a hands-on learner I like the step-by-step walk me through this type of instructions. Thanks for the encouragement and advice!

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I wrote you a "Chick starting for Dummies" post in my blog.

Hope you enjoy!

Best wishes!

10:14 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

You're too kind, thanks so much! I'm going to check it out now.

8:37 AM  
Blogger HomesteadHerbs said...

If you figure out how to make them lay eggs, let me know!! Mine are not!

This batch might have to go into the freezer and I'll get another batch that does lay eggs! ;-)

3:47 PM  
Blogger prairiemomma said...

If you can get a catalog from McMurray Hatchery,page 4 has instructions on how to care for your baby chicks. It really was helpful for us when we ordered our first batch of chicks a year ago in FEBRUARY! Out of 30 chicks ordered we only lost 5, which I figured was pretty good since it was so cold. Enjoy the experience! Have FUN! Keep us posted on how it goes for you!

9:22 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thank you for that tip! I had forgotten I have that catalog. Too much processing going on in my brain, I'm having memory loss now! Next Thursday's the big day! I will most definitely have photos and lots of dumb chick stories.

12:43 PM  
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