We have some new additions to the town farm…chickens! After much hand-wringing and looking for grown laying hens (which apparently aren’t that easy to come by) we decided to try our hand at raising some chicks ourselves. We decided we’d go with a small order (5 minimum) of Buff Orpingtons from our local Tractor Supply. The day finally arrived to put the chick order in only come to find out that 25 chicks was actually the minimum order, and 5 was the minimum to purchase live at the store. Foiled again! The chicks available at the store were “mixed breed, straight run,” meaning they are mutts with no guarantee of knowing the sex. Since we’re looking for layers, we were getting ready to leave and start scheming other ways to find a small flock of layers when the young blond staffer told us she’d be happy to sex the chicks for us if we wanted to purchase them there. Surprised, we said we’d think about it and headed home.
It only took a couple of hours to decide we wanted to get the chicks. We headed back, hunted down the young gal, and asked her to pick us out 5 active, healthy pullets. We watched as she plucked out a cute ball of fluff, then pulled a washer tied to a string out, and proceeded to hang it above the chicks head. Confused, I asked her what method of sexing she was using. She told us that by watching whether the washer spun in a circle or swung back and forth she would be able to determine if the chick was male or female. Oh my! Wasn’t this some sort of game from my grade school days??? Wyatt and I exchanged nervous glances, but felt it was too late and would cause too much of a scene to ask her stop. A few folks ambled by and smirked as the girl patiently waited for the washer to reveal the chick’s sex. Cusious, I asked her what the accuracy of this “method” was, and she said the man who taught her said “75%.” I’d err caution and say it may be closer to 50%. We graciously accepted our box of “mixed” chickens, paid our $12 for the tiny flock, plus picked up some necessary chick supplies and headed home.
Back at the house we had a good laugh about the chicken sexing fiasco, accepted the fact that we may have some unwanted roosters come a few months, and went about our business of setting up the brooder cage. We repurposed Reuben’s dog cage by adding wood shaving to the bottom, set up the chicks’ water and feed containers, and welcomed the girls (and probaby guys) into their new home in the garage. Oh the cuteness!
We’ve been having fun watching the chicks grow…and oh do they grow fast! They’ve quickly morphed from cute balls of fluff into baby velociraptor looking creatures. From looking at these chicks there’s no doubt in my mind chickens are the descendants of dinosaurs. They’re becoming quite active and vocal and interact with us when we come into the garage. We will work on building their coop and run in the near future, but for now they’re quite contented to hang in the warm garage.
All we do now is hope there was some magic in that washer tied to a string and we end up with some layers out of this bunch!