Three generations of my family call 1840 Farm home. While we sometimes have differing views on a variety of topics, this month we’re all in agreement when it comes to the excitement that is waiting right around the corner. In fact, the date April 30, 2012, is circled on the calendar in both households here.
These chicks will be the second batch that will come to call 1840 Farm home. Our first chicks arrived in September of 2010. We’ve learned a great deal about chickens and farming since then, but we learned our first lesson immediately after they arrived. From the moment we opened their small shipping box, we were hooked.
Our first batch of tiny chicks was the biggest thing to happen to 1840 Farm since we had moved in five years earlier. Eight-day-old chicks might not seem like a big statement, but for my family it was a triumphant pronouncement of our victory over an invisible antagonist. Nearly two years later, I still get the same joyous feeling every time I see my son reach into the nest box to retrieve what he calls a “homemade” egg.
We did just that and became better gardeners for it. Heirloom tomatoes became our summer currency and we found ourselves growing more of them each summer. We enlarged the garden bit by bit. Every year we added something new to the gardens and each summer we found that our harvest had grown exponentially. Together, we were producing more than 100 pounds of fresh produce for our family. It was an achievement that we were all proud of.
It didn’t take long for the whole family to start dreaming of adding a flock of chickens to our farm. In a matter of weeks, we had broken ground on the foundation for our coop. The eggplant bed would have to be relocated next year. It had been commandeered by the structure that would become a bed for our egg-laying hens. We were mid-growing season, and yet next year’s garden expansion had already begun.
I was in the midst of canning and preserving some of our summer garden harvest that September morning when the telephone rang. A postal employee was on the other end of the line. He informed me that our chicks had arrived at the post office and asked if I would please come to pick them up. The canning jars were midway through processing in the boiling water canner. I grabbed the kitchen timer and ran to the garage to confirm that the brooder was ready.
As soon as I arrived at the post office, I could understand why the postal employee had so politely but firmly encouraged me to come immediately to pick up my living, breathing package. The chirping baby chicks were making enough noise to fill the post office lobby with their own sweet melody. The entire lobby was abuzz with patrons talking about the baby bird noises.
We watched them endlessly during those first few weeks. They grew from fluffy chicks on unsteady legs into awkward juvenile chickens on legs too large for their bodies. We finished their coop in spite of a heat wave and an unfortunate trip to the emergency room. The rest, as they say, is history.