I’d had the catalog for Murray McMurray Hatchery well before we’d even found the farm, so it seemed like a no-brainer to go ahead and order our poultry once we had a finalized contract for the house and loan approval from the bank. We were set to close the 20th of May, and I wanted the chicks and ducks to arrive soon enough that they would be fully grown before any potential cold spells in the Fall. So I ordered them for delivery by USPS the last week of June, two weeks after our planned move-in date.
The hatchery has a minimum order of 25 day old chicks, which is about 15 more than we really wanted, but we figured we’d inevitably lose some so why not. I went with all dual purpose breeds (meaning they are big enough to be worth eating, but still lay eggs almost daily), knowing that the girls would end up as stewing hens once their 2 years of laying was up, and hoping that we may be able to hatch our own broilers come next summer.
Turns out, closing on a house isn’t as straightforward as I would have assumed something like that would be when your mortgage broker does it every single day for a living. Hmm. Which is all to say that the day old chicks arrived 3 days before we moved into the farm. We’d already closed on the property (thank goodness), but the house was only inhabited by the contractors renovating the kitchen… not an ideal way for nervous new parents to check on their peeps.
We picked them up at our local post office hub (yes, day old chicks get delivered by mail – crazy!) and moved them into the basement of the new house after an emergency trip to Southern States to buy heat lamps, water-ers and feeders. They even stock the exact feed I was hoping to source, Countryside Natural Products – an organic, soy-free mix made 40 miles from us over in the Shenandoah Valley. And then we drove down to the farm (I’m such a cheeseball I took a half day off work to go set up the peeps).
Will cut up boxes we’d used for the move and arranged them into about a 6′ diameter circle. We put down a tarp and covered it with pine shavings, which we then covered with newspaper (we’d read that the day old chicks can confuse the litter with food, so for the first day it’s best to cover it up so they find the feeders – yeah, chickens aren’t so bright). After setting up , we lifted each chick out of the box and dipped their beaks into the water one by one, so they’d learn how to drink (again, per written instructions).