I picked a chirping box up Monday afternoon at the post office, to the shock of all the other people waiting in line.
H2 has been chiding me for several years that I should be raising chickens and until now I've ignored her advice, saying it was too much of a hassle for a few eggs. In a sign of my changing priorities, I'm almost as excited about the poop as I am about the eggs. Their "waste" will be put to good use in the garden.
Patrick, a fellow community gardener, and I ordered 25 (female) rhode island reds from Murray McMurray hatchery, and they showed up alive, mostly. I'll take 8 of the 22 surviving chicks, Patrick has plans for the rest. If you're interested in some, he'll pass them on to you at cost, roughly $3 per.
For the next 9 weeks they'll be inside in an expandable brooder I made; after that they'll go into a large run with coop that I'm building under my back deck.
There will be enough room for 15 chickens out there. For now, I'll make do with eight.
I'm completely new at this -- Gail Damerow's guidebook has been a terrific help. Backyard Chickens has good info as well. I also follow a google group called Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts.
This morning I noticed that about half of the chicks had what Damerow calls "sticky bottoms" or pasting up. Warm running water, q tips, and some vaseline took care of it.
Carl and the chicks get along just fine.