Monday, April 26, 2010
The Chicks are here
As if it were not chaotic enough around here, what with the Gypsy lute-makers camping in the attic, and our mattress in the living room (While we painted our bedroom “rouge” with “desert tan” trim) along with the pillows and blankets and CSB’s tuxedo, and stacks of honey supers everywhere you turn, and bowls full of precious gourd seeds in the kitchen, and the imported Bolivian moths laying their Andean moth eggs in my sock drawer, and the Maine junior lacrosse team practicing in the front yard, the chickens moved in today.
Fifteen of them.
Because they are so small they all fifteen are residing in a large wooden crib (See above) filled with soft pine shavings, and we are hoping very much that the dogs do not think of them as a meal.
They will move into the chicken coop soon (it’s not quite ready; CSB is installing the chandelier and I’ll be hanging the damask curtains later tonight) but we’re not exactly sure when – we will have to consult with Raising Chickens for Dummies.
If we had gone about this in a somewhat normal fashion, we would have ordered day old chicks from McMurray’s Hatchery and they would have sent us hens. But instead, the little boys who formerly lived next door and now live in the next town, wanted to hatch the chicks from eggs. So our friend Annie Farrell gave CSB 24 eggs of various colors and breeds, and the boys hatched them in an incubator behind the sofa in their octagonal TV room. Fifteen eggs hatched and so far all fifteen are still alive and chirping. But we have no idea whether we have hens or roosters. And this is a very important distinction. Hens lay eggs. Roosters crow at early hours, and annoy the neighbors and in fact roosters are aves non grata in our town.
At least once a day we have some sort of discussion about chicken sexing. Chicken sexing is quite an art. (I did a lot of research on this subject for Absent A Miracle, believe it or not. Most of it did not make it into the novel.) It involves inserting a finger into the chicken’s rectum and feeling for a tell-tale bump. If you’re unwilling to do this – and I am unwilling – then you have to wait for the appearance of their secondary sexual characteristics.
So far the only specific breed identified is the Crevecour. The boys named her/him Bump, because of her/his flashy upright hairstyle. She looks like a punk Restoration playwright to me.
CSB is not going to refer to any of the chickens by name, for the obvious reason. I think he will be outnumbered.