We only hatched one, lone Delaware chick from our first round of incubation a couple of months ago. Of the 12 eggs, only two fertilized and the one little guy never made it out of the egg. I figured it would be a good time to hunt for some Silkies, so our chick would have some company for the long winter that’s approaching quicker than I’d like.
Silkies are referred to as the lap dogs of the chicken breeds and are exceptionally good with kids. Searching on the Internet, I found a lovely lady who runs CJ’s Silkies and sells eggs about a 45-minute drive from our house. I e-mailed her and we made plans to meet so I could pick up the eggs (rather than have her mail them). She was so sweet and generous. We came home with a dozen Silkie eggs to incubate. I checked the eggs with the OvaScope egg candler after a week and seven of the twelve were fertilized! Three beauties successfully hatched out of this batch.
Surprisingly, it was simple for Derek to put together and seems to be well-constructed for being an import. It took only a couple hours and the instructions were straightforward. The coop looks nice and should accommodate about three to four full-grown hens. I hope we’ll build a larger coop with a bigger run ourselves in the spring. We have our plans for that coop still and some of the supplies ready. It’s something we both want to take on when I’m feeling up to it! Derek had a great idea to add handles to the coop and retrofit wheels from our defunct jogging stroller so we can move it around the yard. I hope we’ll be able to do this before the snow flies. Otherwise, it will be a springtime to-do!
A word of caution: Be very careful buying anything online! Do your research and make sure to carefully read the feedback for a seller and know their policy if the item arrives damaged or there are missing/broken pieces. Some sellers only give you a matter of days to let them know if there is a part missing or broken. There are a lot of shysters out there, so exercise caution and do not rush to buy anything. Take your time to carefully consider your purchase and read everything about the product listing very carefully. Simply put, buyer beware!
Our third Silkie to hatch had some difficulty with spraddle legs. Luckily, I ran into information online about this when I was reading up for our first chick. The poor little thing could only do splits and just couldn’t get its footing to walk around. Scooby-Doo Band-Aids to the rescue! I liked the pictures from this site that illustrate how to fix a chick’s spraddle legs.It’s essential you remedy this problem in the first few days so the chick can get a good start and train its legs to stay together. This process would have gone flawlessly except for the fact that Silkies have hairy legs! Derek held the poor little thing while I attempted to affix the bandage around each leg. We were successful after a few minutes of careful maneuvering. Afterward, the chick took a long and well-deserved nap. Two days later, the bandage started to come loose and he or she is doing well on their legs … and no more splits! If the problem continues when the bandage starts to fall off, you have to apply another bandage.
The temperaments of the Silkie chicks are incredible! Nora was holding one and it nuzzled up under her neck, closed its eyes and started to take a nap. It was one of the moments that simply melt your heart! With three chicks in the brooder, we are able to observe the pecking order play out. The two oldest are vying for head honcho. They are like the three stooges trying to poke each other in the eye or nip at each others’ legs. The other strange thing that you don’t find in the books is the way these crazy chicks sleep. The two darker ones love to sleep on their sides and stick their feet in the air. I glanced at the brooder and it took my breath away. I figured, “Oh no! It’s dead!” After closer inspection, I saw it was happily snoozing away and its little legs were twitching in some slumber-induced dream. Phew! They have since stopped napping like this and it’s put me at ease.
Sadly, our white Silkie passed a couple weeks later. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I tried desperately to do whatever I could to save her. She just all of the sudden ran out of steam and was listless. I called my neighbor friend and the local Agway to see if they could give any advice. There really wasn’t much else I could do. I was told it just happens sometimes all of the sudden. Nevertheless, it was a sad day for us all. It’s just really hard to accept that I couldn’t make the poor girl better.
In the coming weeks, Derek will have a blog about dressing chicken. We had the awesome opportunity to learn to safely and humanely butcher a chicken (thanks to our friends at Spring Meadows Farms, who hosted a recent field day).