Spring Means New Life

There are pussy willows, crocuses and chives growing in the garden. Migrating birds are returning to Swan Haven and mallards are swimming in the ditch just down the road. On the farm we see new life in spring as well, although it isn’t as reliant on the weather as crocuses and returning geese.

Every spring we order and then prepare for our new chicks and turkeys poults. This year we are getting goslings and also replacing our laying hens, which means even more chicks this year than usual.

Chicks, poults and goslings, like all baby birds, are able to survive without food or water for about 48 hours after hatching. Because of this, Yukoners are able to acquire them from southern Canada. A few years ago we started to order chicks from a hatchery in Quebec with a group of other farmers. These chicks grew into very hardy birds that did well in our northern climate.

This year our birds were to arrive on April 18. We usually would gather at the airport to wait for the chicks to come in, divide up the shipment and race home to get them into their brooders. This year we received a call around 5 p.m. letting us know that someone had off-loaded them by mistake and they were in Winnipeg for the night. We knew they were tough chicks, but they are still babies, so anything could happen.

When they arrived they still seemed full of energy — a good sign. But because more than 24 hours had passed since they had hatched we had less time to get them settled.

When we bring home new chicks we like to make sure they know where the water is and have a drink before they go off to explore their new surroundings. We add molasses to the water to help boost their energy, we make sure there is feed for them to peck at and heat lamps for them to warm up under.

The chicks seemed to be quite happy to be out of their confinement and roaming around. They all got a drink of water and some were hungry and ready to eat. Considering what could have gone wrong, these chicks have done very well.

We still have to prepare for more chicks because this was only the first shipment of three.

Spring is truly here.

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