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Here’s why my Christmas recap is so late this year: I wanted to show you our new girls!
We had chickens several years ago, at our old house, and gave them to a friend when we listed the house for sale. We ended up moving into a city/neighborhood where we can have chickens again, and the kids have been begging for new chickens for a long time, but I’ve been hesitant. There are already a lot of living things around here to take care of. We travel a lot. Chickens are poopy. All that sort of thing.
But also I love chickens. And they’re really not much more trouble to find petsitters for than cats are (maybe less, because eggs). And it gets harder and harder to come up with ways to make Christmas morning exciting the older the kids get.
Here they are opening up the box of chick accessories that clued them in that we’d be picking up chicks a few days later:
I’d thought that finding just a few (we got 4–one for each kid) chicks in the middle of winter was going to be really tough–online places have large minimum order numbers, at least when it’s so cold outside–but then I found a local hatchery on Facebook that has several different breeds of sex-linked chicks. Sex-linked means you can tell the boys apart from the girls as soon as they hatch and you don’t wind up with roosters waking you (and your neighbors) up. Most of the big hatcheries you can order from online will “sex” chicks for you before they ship, but most smaller local places don’t have anyone who can do that. And even if they do, sexing day old chicks is a tricky business and not 100% accurate. We ended up with a rooster with our first batch of sexed chicks (we found someone to give him to via Craigslist who at least told us she wasn’t planning to eat him).
We drove to Orchard Hill Poultry, about an hour and a half south of us, to pick up our chicks. If you’re in the metro Atlanta area (or not–they also ship) and looking for chicks, we had a really good experience here. Brandy was super helpful, and everything was very well organized and clean. And our chicks are adorable and, I can already tell, very smart.
Each kid got to name one, which means I didn’t get to name any, but I think they did an excellent job.
Here’s Abe’s chick, Metropolis Egg. She’s a German Bielefelder, and she’ll eventually lay dark brown eggs. She hatched on December 21, so she’s about a week older than the others. The descriptions online of Bielefelders talk a lot about how HUGE they are and how we’re lucky they tend to be very docile because otherwise they’d probably overpower us and take over the world. Something like that.
I learned that the key to chick portraiture is to pull them out while they’re nice and sleepy so they’ll hold still for you. Like newborn humans!
Here’s Ari’s chick, Lois Lane (the Superman theme ends here, which made Ari a little sad). She’s a Crested Cream Legbar, who will grow up to lay blue eggs and have a weird looking thing on her head. She is our cuddliest chick so far.
Milo’s chick is named Susan Owl. For a long time, whenever we finished reading a book, Abe would add, “by Susan Owl” for unknown reasons. Susan Owl is a 55 Flowery Hen who’s going to lay boring old white eggs, but we love her anyway.
Gus’s chick, Alma, is another 55 Flowery Hen, but the silver variety instead of the gold like her sister, Susan Owl. She’s the littlest one, but she chirps the loudest and really doesn’t like it when she’s away from the other chicks:
Our big project now is to get their coop and pen ready for them to move into in a few weeks. After looking at a bunch of plans for DIY coops online, we decided to buy a pre-made one that just needed to be assembled. There are a bunch of options out there that are adorable and surprisingly inexpensive….we decided we wouldn’t come out much ahead buying materials ourselves. We ended up with this one from Amazon (it still has another, mysteriously inaccessible, top level that need to put on):
Isn’t it fancy? It seems to be well made and was easy to put together. We’re going to get some pavers or something to get it up off the ground a bit and then it will open directly into the pen we need to build. I have no idea how our current pack of dogs is going to do with chickens. The dogs we had last time we had chickens were great with them, but these are different dogs. So they’ll have a pen big enough that they can stay in there a lot if needed and only have supervised yard time when the dogs aren’t out there. Or the dogs will ignore them and they can stay out in the yard a lot. We’ll see.
Chicks aside, we had a lovely, fairly laid back Christmas. Christmas Eve we saw my Dad’s side of the family and Abe was a shepherd in the Christmas pageant at church:
Christmas with an almost 5 year old is pretty much the best kind of Christmas there is. Abe was SO EXCITED about everything:
And his enthusiasm was infectious:
My mom and stepfather and brother and sister-in-law came over for breakfast and more presents, including the Bob Ross game the kids bought Sean and Rebecca. My stepfather was looking at the box on the floor after it had been opened and commented, “he favors Sean.” Judge for yourself:
We went outside and finally got some decent extended family photos:
And in the afternoon we headed over to my friend Tracy’s house for more Christmas togetherness with friends. I don’t have any pictures of that, since it was mostly people sitting around eating and drinking plus kids hanging out in the basement playing games.
Another Christmas in the books! and the nice thing about Christmas chicks is that in a few months they’ll start laying eggs and it will be like getting MORE Christmas presents almost every day!
Hope everyone who celebrates also had a great and chicken filled Christmas!