Chruble Chicks

More chicken drama?  More chicken drama.

Last spring we ordered chickens as usual.  We were to receive 250 every week for four weeks.  The first two, no three, batches arrived just fine – in two days as they’re supposed to.  Batch number four took three days to get here.  Since baby chicks can really only survive two days by absorbing the yolk before they hatch, fully half of those birds perished from the delay.

The hatchery said they would replace the birds but their hands were tied when it came to Postal delivery schedules.

Ok, it was a fluke.  So they sent replacements.  Again, it took three days.  Again, half perished.

It was then that I found myself on the  phone with a lady at a hatchery in Iowa discussing replacements for replacements…

Fastforward to mid summer when we needed to order some more chicks.  While ordering, nice lady at Iowa hatchery suggested Express Mail.  Some of their customers, she said, had already had to resort to this added expense to get their birds on time.  Still reeling from our earlier losses, I agreed to take the hit.

Guess what?  No problems.  Everyone arrived in two days as usual and losses were minimal.  But something stuck in my craw.  Here I am, little Postal customer in Tennessee, paying the Post Office extra to do today what it did for less yesterday and for years before.  I know, I know.  The price of stamps rises a bit every few years.  But this was different.  Nothing had changed, no fees had risen.  They had simply stopped delivering on time and I was suddenly paying them more. I felt like I was actively funding inefficiency.

So when I ordered chicks this year, I determined not to pay for Express Mail.  Our first birds shipped last Wednesday – Monsoon Day, a mere 24 hours before Ice Day.  Friday morning came and no birds.  I went into high alert.  The brooder was ready – woodchips were down, waterers cleaning and working, feed out, hovers on, lightbulbs replaced, drafts sealed, but no birds.  Saturday morning I got up early and ran down to the Post Office.

No birds.

No birds!

Come Monday, I got a call early from our Post Office.  The birds were there.  My hopes were not high, but they weren’t that low.

Out of 250, I put just under 100 live birds into the brooder.  Despite dipping each little beak in water and scattering food everywhere, yesterday, under 30 were still kicking.

When I called the Hatchery, I was greeted by a very frazzled employee.  She explained that the freeze on Thursday had shut down many deliveries and they were getting ready to replace thousands of birds across the country.  In Memphis, she said, birds had reached the frozen hub and sat for three days – three days too long.  I doubt Express Mail would have helped.

They’re sending 250 replacements next week at no charge.  I called yesterday and told them to send them Express.  The freezes are probably over and I have found a new hatchery – one that’s several hundred miles closer – but our hearts needs this next shipment to be full of live and happy chicks!

I clipped the above pic of Henry out of a short video you’ll find on our facebook page – along with a clip of our newest farm invention…