Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Mail Order Poultry Has Arrived!

I still find it slightly crazy that you can order poultry through the mail. This morning while I was out running errands to pick up the last few things I needed for my brooder I got The Call. "This is the post office. Your chicks are here." I actually screamed "YAYYYY!" into the lady's ear. And then I went and got my chicks.

They were quite noisy. Even though the box was in the back room at the post office I could hear the peeping from the mail counter. I took them home, fashioned a brooder out of an old cardboard box, and then opened the shipping box:

In addition to the four keets (baby guinea fowl) and three ducklings, the hatchery had added TEN male baby chicks for extra warmth in transit! So now I have my meat birds for this spring and they were free. Unfortunately, Big Sister's baby mallard duck arrived dead. She has been waiting for this duckling for weeks, reading everything she could about how to care for ducks and picking out the awesome name of Pete for her new little guy. She was adamant that she get a male mallard. No other breed would do, although I tried to talk her into others. The hatchery will refund our money but they won't ship one baby duck so I think it's going to be hard to find a replacement. I'm so disappointed for Big Sister.

All of the other birds arrived in great shape. The keets (which is what you call baby guinea fowl) are adorable and remind me of the Japanese banty chicks we had last spring. They are small and feisty and have dark stripes. The ducklings are bigger and their webbed feet are downright ridiculous. They are obsessed with the watering trough, splashing and stepping in it more than the other birds. The baby chicks are the tiny yellow fluff balls, the quintessential chicks. The hatchery uses male chicks as their "extras" so they will all one day be roosters. Goodness gracious. So we will be eating them before they get around to crowing.

I know lots of folks aren't familiar with guinea fowl. They look like this:

There's a good article about them here in Mother Earth News. In Spanish they are called coquenas. Our guinea keets currently look like this:

Our two surviving ducklings are female Khaki Campbells, a breed known for its prolific egg-laying abilities.

The kids were not home to greet the baby birds so I can't wait for them to get home later! I'll keep y'all posted on the flock's progress.


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