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Eric spent most of the day working on the chicken coop so we can get the chicks outside. They've outgrown their brooder and then some. Alas, he didn't quite get it done enough to make the transfer, but hopefully Monday morning we can get them out there, as the biggest thing that needs to get done to let them be out is getting the lid on the nest boxes.

As it wasn't clear whether he would get done or not today, I went to the store to get a food container for the coop as I hadn't previously done so. Chick season is apparently in full swing now, as they had tons more than when I'd been there last. I was browsing through the various breeds available out of curiosity when I saw a worker poking at a chick. When she caught my glance, she said, "Oh, don't worry, he isn't sick, he's just hurt. He'll be fine."

Wait a minute...he's /just/ hurt? I mean, they must go through hundreds, if not thousands of chicks, but that seems like a pretty cavalier attitude to me. This chick was just collapsed on the floor of the cage, eyes closed, shuddering in what seemed likely to be pain. She made a further remark about how he'd gotten his foot stuck in the wire on the floor of the cage and went off to do something. Looking closer, I could see he even had fresh blood on one of his toes. She came back a couple of minutes later and noticed the blood too, so moved him into a different cage, but one that still had chicks. You know, more of the animals that so commonly pecks its fellows to death that it's extremely common to cut the tips of their beaks off.

I'd been wrestling with my conscience for a few minutes, and at this point, I told her that I'd just take him. She was surprised and a bit dubious, but when I insisted, she went all enthusiastic about how he was going to be fine. Then she moved in for the kill and convinced me to take a silkie chick that was all by itself. They're not good layers, but I felt bad for it and it is a breed I really like, so I let myself be suckered. The hurt chick is a golden phoenix, and to finish things off I got a dominique pullet and a silver wyandotte pullet (who turned out to be the last one, so she probably would have suckered me into taking it if I hadn't wanted to in the first place).

I was possibly going to get some more chicks from the lady at preschool, so this wasn't completely out of the blue, but I wasn't quite ready for more tiny chicks until the big ones are outside, so I had to kludge another brooder together. Given the phoenix's injured status, I wasn't sure whether it should be with the others and so put it in a box inside the brooder, but the other three have somehow managed to all climb inside it. They're surprisingly agile for how tiny they are (and that's another amazing thing, to see the comparison between the old chicks and the new-they grow so fast!). Hopefully the little thing will be okay. Its right leg is mostly just a big bruise. It's sitting up a bit more now, so that's a hopeful sign, but I'll have to keep a close eye for both bullying and pasty butt. I think it'd probably have died to pasty butt at the store even if the other chicks hadn't killed it because it's clearly not going to be moving much for a while and they don't bother to check them. I know they have tons of chicks to deal with, but it seems like they could have a separate container to put checked ones into and just go through them a cage at a time once every day or two.

My dad says he has a friend with chickens, so he's going to see if she can take the black one if he is in fact a cockerel. I think she's one of his neighbors up in the valley, where a great deal, if not most, of the land is zoned for agriculture, so here's hoping she's both able and willing to take a mutt rooster. The phoenix and the silkie are both from straight runs, so there's a 50% chance those are cockerels too, but hopefully they'd be easier to find homes for with phoenixes being less common and silkies being such great pets.

Date: 2012-03-25 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistle-chaser.livejournal.com
All this makes me smile so much. It's great that you took the hurt one! And it'll be nice if the black one finds a new home, too.

Date: 2012-03-25 06:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
Eric just kind of sighed at me but my mom was glad too. I mean, if the phoenix turns out to be a cockerel, it might die anyway, but a quick death and then getting some use as food is different than a slow death from being pecked or the digestive track getting backed up. The good news is it seems to be doing a bit better this morning. It's standing up now on its uninjured leg while trying to keep all weight off the injured one. All four seem to be getting along just fine. The dominique and the silkie both ended up by having pasty butt. Someone else had been interested in the silkie (I told them they could have it, but they told me to take it because they had some and I'd love it), so it probably would have been okay, but I probably saved the dominique's life too.

Date: 2012-03-28 03:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coffeehousedog.livejournal.com
you'll have to post pictures if you can! I'd like to see all the different kinds you have! I've been reading, but not sure if you mentioned or not -- you getting these chickens to lay eggs just for your family, or do you want to sell eggs too? Or?

Date: 2012-03-28 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firebyrd.livejournal.com
I'm planning on using the eggs for my family, though I suppose if I get too overwhelmed I might sell a few.

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