I get an email in my inbox: Your chicks have flown the coop.  I nervously wait for three days, constantly checking the tracking information with not a single change.  Finally the call comes in early (the 6:20 AM kind of early) Wednesday morning and a woman says, "Your babies are here."  I can hear them chirping through the phone line and that lump in my throat gets bigger.  Who knew little balls of chirping fluff could evoke so much emotion and terror.  I've given birth to two humans and have never once been nervous about caring for them. I guess my mothering instincts are good, but chicken on the other hand; I have no idea how to be a chicken.  Will I be a good mommy chicken?  Do I have to teach them to peck and scratch?  I hop in the car and drive to the post office.  I am met with another woman with the same look of happy nervous excitement on her face.  She is also getting chickens I quickly learn (and she divulged they are in fact legal in our town...whoo hoo!).  The post office worker finally brings out two boxes and we can hear the chirping getting louder.  Now there are three women all standing around prying open the boxes to take a peek inside.        
    I rush my three little girls home, snap a few pictures and take a little video.  All the while I keep noticing one of the chicks is not able to stand or pick her head up.  I didn't have to be a mother hen to understand that something wasn't right.  It took a few hours but despite my attempts to nurse her back to health, her little body finally gave up.  I was quite surprised at how remarkably calm I was.  Here was my first task at hand and I messed it up.  But, they are chickens after all and there are lots of things that can go wrong.  I scooped her up and quickly performed a little burial in the backyard, my oldest son watching from the window.  Then I got right back to the two remaining and made sure they were going to be ok.  * I write this after receiving three additional chickens today and after seeing their behavior, I can tell you that my first three were not in good shape when they arrived.     
    Our first two girls are Red Star chickens.  From what I have read the red stars are very good egg layers.  They will continue to lay through the winter, when most chickens will take a break.  We named them, Sunny and Cara.  My oldest son was instantly attracted to Sunny.  She is inquisitive, nosy and loves to be close to us.  She was the strongest of the three and seems to have risen to the top of the pecking order.  Sunny chirped the whole first day home.  Anytime I would walk away from the brooder she would chirp louder and louder until I would finally give up and walk back.  I have a feeling she is probably going to be more like a pet then the others.

    Sunny and Cara really took up most of my week but we were granted some beautiful weather this last weekend.  We got a chance to clean up the backyard, throw down some extra wood chips, build and paint a coop, and I even got a chance to set up my garden beds to plant the cooler weather vegetables.  We also decided to take a quick walk down by the river and I couldn't help but check out my ramp spot to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be.  It took me a while to find them. I was beginning to freak out a bit but finally they appeared.  The two pictured below are loner ramps, normally you find them in big clumps.  They seemed a little small for my liking so I decided to leave them until this next weekend when we can enjoy them fresh on Easter Sunday.         
* Yup...that's a bald eagle. You can find them in New Jersey believe it or not.  They live close to our favorite spot on the river. 
    Coop building was lots of fun.  If you are wondering where we got our chickens and the coop, they all came from My Pet Chicken.  They allow you to ship a minimum of three chicks at a time and they have everything you could ever need to take care of them.  And the place that I go for all my chicken information, recipes and general care is Fresh Eggs Daily.  This site is a wealth of information on how to raise your chickens naturally.  If you are seriously wanting to do this yourself, check out these two sites and read every bit of information you can.

        I still have a few finishing touches to make on the coop, but I will definitely share the finished product with you.
    Our next three little girls arrived today, in the same fashion as the last bunch.  Only I was a little more calm this time around. Maybe? 

    The reason I decided to order three more chickens is because they like to be in groups. Sunny and Cara seemed a bit lonely on their own and I really did start this adventure for the eggs (and the beautiful compost).  Having only two chickens would cut down the egg production on the "homestead".  Getting a few more would also help to keep each other company and more importantly warm in the winter.  Since I already got two great egg layers I didn't really need three more great egg layers.  I have always wanted to get chickens that lay different color eggs and now here was my chance.  This time I ordered a breed called Easter Eggers.  These girls have the potential to lay eggs that could be pink, green, blue, or brown or even white.  There is no way to know what type of egg they will lay, and whatever color comes out will be the same every time.  So fingers crossed that these three will lay a variety of different colors. They also won't lay as many eggs as the red stars, but this is actually a redeeming trait at the moment because I'm not ready to get into the commercial egg business just yet. 

    Oh..and these three are named Luna, Phoebe and Seline.  Anyone know where the names come from?  I'd be very impressed if you did.
    We also tried to dye some eggs today.  My oldest hiding in the back there is really into Easter.  He told me today that he wants to wait up all night for the Easter Bunny so he can give him a hug.  Probably because he was not interested in giving the Easter Bunny at the mall a hug...who would be though, right?  I really wanted to try those "Natural" dyes out this year.  They did come out really pretty.  Unfortunately boys are not so much into pretty.  They were quite disappointed that the blue dye didn't work.  I think I need to boil the red cabbage a little bit longer next time.  Overall, I really liked doing it naturally, but it was hard for the little guys. Each egg had to sit in the dye for a really long period of time.  Not like the stuff in the box that works almost instantly.  I'm not giving up though because they might enjoy this little science project as they get older, and I would love to experiment with more types of natural dyes.   
    And finally, how about those hydroponic tomatoes; they are just now starting to ripen.  My son pulled the first one off proclaiming, "Look, they are ready!"  Now I know you are wondering, "Do they taste as good as a sun ripened summer tomato?" Ehhhh...not quite.  But for a homegrown tomato in the middle of a freezing April, they aren't too shabby.
 


Comments

04/17/2014 11:06am

Sandra, I am so excited for you. You are such a caring person and great mom. Full of kindness, intuition and warmth. I don't think those little chicks - now 5 of them - could be in better hands. I have enjoyed following your journey and observing your boys love as well. So much joy and fun on this new adventure for the family. Your photos are stunning -- that one of the two chicks looking at each other is literally priceless. I think your naturally dyed eggs turned out beautifully by the way. I much prefer the muted pastel (natural) tones to the neon ones ;-) -- I think it's just a matter of what we are surrounded by that becomes our norm so I understand your little guys' disappointment but maybe this could become the new normal over time. Give your girls a little squeeze for me -- I'm adoring them virtually. Happy Easter to All, xx.

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04/17/2014 12:05pm

Thanks Kelly, and I am so happy to have you along for the adventure. Hope you all have a great Easter too! XOXO

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04/17/2014 11:57am

So much exciting news at your house!!! Congrats on the new additions to the family! My wife's sister just started raising chickens for egg purposes and she gets more than she knows what to do with. Very exciting!

And I think those dyed eggs look beautiful! SO much cooler than the normal commercial dye jobs out there.

And ramps... man I want to find me some ramps!!! Love that you now have "a spot" to get them every year... that is, until I find out where that spot is and steal all of them before you get there hahahaha

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04/17/2014 12:03pm

Oh...I'll tell you where my spot is Chris, but then I'd have to kill you! Any local parks on the island? You never know!!!

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04/18/2014 8:38am

Well aren't they cute! We had (illegal) backyard chickens when I was growing up and I remember it being a lot of fun and the eggs delicious. Now the city has changed the laws and backyard chickens are legal once more. I look forward to seeing how your adventure unfolds!

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04/18/2014 8:44am

I'm really glad for my boys that we are doing this (I would have done it illegal too). I love that they will learn where at least some of their food comes from. I just worry for the poor chickens...little boys are not the most gentle creatures :)

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04/18/2014 7:34pm

So much goodness in one blog post :) I'm sure you'll make an excellent chick mom! They're in good hands. So excited to follow along on your chick raising journey!

For the blue egg dye, did you try adding a little bit of baking soda to the purple cabbage - that's what makes it blue? I used that for cake once and it came out nicely, though it was hard to get colour without the cake tasting like cabbage - but that wouldn't be a problem for the eggs.

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04/18/2014 9:23pm

I did not add baking soda...maybe that was the problem. I also hear that grape juice or blueberries might give a blue-ish color too. Next time we do them I'm definitely going to try the baking soda. Thanks :)

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Justina
04/23/2014 11:39am

Nice find!! Enjoy. I went out last weekend and my spots are not ready yet they are still on the small side. As far as Morels, start looking on May 1st, open sunny woods along trails near or around peeling bark tree's and tulip poplars tree's.

justina
05/13/2014 8:17am

A Morel Mushroom update. After 2 hours of walking and just about to give up I found Morels, in a lawn area all under Tulip Poplar tree's, the area was very sunny looked like the sun hits the area all day. Warm weather came so late this year but they are just staring to come up. Good Luck.

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05/13/2014 8:23am

Thanks for telling me Justina!!! Glad you found some. I went out last week and didn't see anything...I'm going to search around some more in the next few days and see if I get lucky!

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