That's right - 40 baby chicks arrived in the mail today, unordered, unexpected and completely unprepared for. Somebody upstairs is rolling on the floor, laughing hysterically at me right now. They sure are cute, but what a great way to throw someone into a complete panic! Fortunately, my wonderful in-laws came to my rescue and crisis has been averted.
The poor little peepers had obviously been in the box for awhile, so I immediately set up a makeshift brooder in a gigantic cardboard box. We didn't have any brooder supplies that weren't already in use, so I stuck dishes of food and water in for them that they immediately swarmed (there were at least three chicks standing in the water dish whenever I peeked in at them). I didn't have another heat lamp, so I filled up Ziploc bags with hot water and threw them in as makeshift hot water bottles. Then, I set about making some phone calls to figure out what the HECK was going on.
Fact is, nobody knows why I got 40 chicks in the mail. I first called My Pet Chicken, since they're the only place I've given my name and address to in relation to chickens. They didn't know what was going on, but they recognized the name in the package's return address as another mail-order chicken place that uses the same hatchery. She did give me some very good advice, namely to call a feed store and see if they'd accept extra babies. Apparently she had the same thing happen to her not so long ago. Obviously, the hatcheries need to get their act together somewhat.
Next, I called the non-My Pet Chicken related place that apparently sent me the box. They had no record of my name or order number in their system. They said they'd call the hatchery, but there wasn't much they could do other than tell me not to try to send the chicks back because they wouldn't survive the trip. We had one casualty in this box, which isn't bad when considering the sheer volume of chicks in the box. And I thought three chicks peeping were loud! These guys were deafening.
After another check on the chickies, I consulted with my in-laws who had come to my rescue. They've been talking about getting chickens for years, so they picked their favorite ten out of the batch. There was no information in the box as to what breeds the chickies were or if they were sexed (all girls) or straight-run (50-50). Then, my father-in-law and I drove out to Linnton Feed & Seed, where the wonderful folks who run the place came to my rescue and took the remaining chicks. I am hoping that they'll be able to nurse the weaklings back to health and find happy homes for all of them.
Fortune smiled on me and the baby chicks today. I happened to be looking out the front window when the mailman arrived, so I was able to take the box in right away. I can't imagine if we'd have been gone all day - it's not exactly warm out. The only thing worse than 40 unexpected chicks on your front porch is 40 unexpected dead chicks on your front porch.
I'm not sure what's going on with the universe these days, but boy do I hope it straightens itself out very soon! I will admit, though, that when I got past the stress of figuring out what to do with 40 chickens, it was nice to have little peepers in my office again!