Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The chicks spent Christmas Day in a cage behind bars yet loved every minute of it! It had been a week of severe weather and they’d already been in the house a couple of times. When windchill predictions reach minus 25°F below zero at night, we all sleep better when under the same roof. The chicks are always eager to go outside the next day however, for fresh air and a chance to spread their wings.
Christmas Eve started out relatively warm and sunny and the girls stayed outside during the day protected from the wind but feeling the warmth of the sun. By the time we arrived home after our traditional Christmas Eve celebration and midnight church, the temperature was below zero. It had been a long day and we all wanted nothing more than to go directly to bed.
I really hadn’t expected cold weather that night so had no plans to bring the girls in. As we trudged inside I started debating with myself. I really didn’t want to bring them inside, after all I was all dressed up, it was after midnight and I was exhausted. Plus, we had company coming over the next day. On the other hand, how could I leave them outside in the freezing cold on this night of all nights? I didn’t want to leave the girls outside, but I really didn’t want to have our house smelling like a barn the next day with company coming.
As with children or household pets, chicken owners have a responsibility to provide safe care. So eventually my better side won out and into the house they came. I’ve developed a system for getting them into the house with a minimum of fuss, even when starting the process after midnight. I cover the back entryway with a large piece of heavy-duty plastic then place a large dog kennel on top. The floor of the kennel gets covered with paper grocery sacks. I’ve found through trial and error that grocery bags are much better than newspaper as chickens love to scratch, peck and eat newspapers creating a huge mess. I carry the chicks in one by one and cover the kennel with a large blanket, like you’d do with parakeets. The girls usually drop right off to sleep making soft mumblings that sound warm and very happy.
The chicks hardly made a sound when I brought them in Christmas Eve and they all went immediately to sleep. We slept in a bit in the morning and I awoke expecting to hear a chorus of hungry chicks ready for action. To my surprise, they were quiet all morning. Whether it was the spirit of the day, the warmth of the heat near their kennel or the Christmas carols playing on the stereo, they ate their special Christmas breakfast of fresh corn kernels and softly cooed while listening to the family opening presents in the other room. I waited for the noise and usual bickering to begin—the girls often act just like siblings when forced into too much togetherness—but they stayed quiet. As I readied everything for our Christmas Day celebration I kept waiting for them to give me a sign that they were now ready to go outside. Usually they let me know that they’re tired of being in the small crate but on Christmas they never let out a peep. It was as if they decided “If they don’t hear us maybe we won’t have to go into the cold today.”
We had a lovely Christmas Day party and the chicks seemed to enjoy it. They clucked along with the carols and seemed to love the commotion in the other rooms. A faint aroma of barn lingered in the back hall but no one seemed to mind. The chicks had a warm special Christmas this year and we learned it’s okay to bring a bit of living Nativity stable inside, especially on the most special of nights, Christmas Eve.
Posted by Janice at 2:48 PM