We drove to CP today, to the Wool Growers' Co-operative, to pick up our new birds. We saw the ready-to-lay hens in their crates outside the door (picture yellow crates that cluck, and occasionally a head peeking out the top), then went inside to hear a chorus of peeping.
Half an hour later, we were headed home with a crate of a dozen hens and a little cardboard box that peeped as it rode in the car for us. They are adorable: yellow balls of fluff with little beaks, bright dark eyes, and cute little feet. When we got home we set up a brooding area with water (had to show them where it was, otherwise they won't find it), litter covered with paper towel (otherwise they'll eat the litter) and a heat lamp (otherwise they'll freeze to death) set not too low (otherwise they'll cook to death). But they are cute. Hard to picture eating them right now, but in 3 months they will be providing us with home-raised, range-fed chicken. Right now they are peeping as they move around, occasionally climbing into the feeder, and generally eliciting many "awww"s from the girls.
The hens, meanwhile, screamed bloody murder at me as I fished them out of the crate. Most just tried to squirm and flap away while shrieking, but a couple were more aggressive and took to pecking at my hands, but after some work they were all in the coop and now they seem to have settled down. Biddy is being quite the bully though, so I'm not sure she has much of a future there. I finally kicked her out of the coop to freerange so the new ones could settle in undisturbed. While I know that may eliminate any chance of her getting used to the newcomers, the good of the twelve hens comes before that of the one. I wonder if she was ticked at me, since she set of straight for the veggie garden and proceeded to dust bathe in my herb plot. Hmph.
But on a positive note: already we have four little bitty pullet eggs! I'd forgotten how small those first eggs are. After the recent drought of fresh eggs it's a welcome surprise.