Farming on a Schedule

Goodness gracious.

Farming on a schedule is a bit of a joke.

Tuesday was a scheduled as a leisurely day when we could finish up the wiring on the brooders, get the roofs on, and just do what had to be done so we were ready when the relatively small batch of 100 turkeys arrived on Wednesday.

Well, things in agriculture are pretty bad at staying within rigid human time frames. Instead, on Tuesday morning right as I was starting what I trust would have been a lovely breakfast, the post office called to let us know that our 400 chicks had arrived. What resulted was the closest feeling I can say I have felt to sheer and utter shock.

Shae and I took a deep breath and burst into a sprint to begin doing whatever we could so we could house, feed, and keep warm 400 newborn chicks. 48 hours early is pretty darn early and we had budgeted to use a substantial chunk of that time to prepare ourselves. We ended up having to split ourselves into three teams with Rodney and I picking up the chicks from the post office, Shae rigging a temporary brooder in the living room that could house the chicks until the outdoor brooders were ready, and my father picking up last-minute supplies in Half Moon Bay.

The noise that 400 chicks make in a house is unbelievable and we spent two hours fussing over the design of our impromptu brooder to get the temperature just right. What’s great is that chicks let you know pretty well how they’re feeling. The biggest danger is that if they get cold or scared, they will crowd into corners and when that happens chicks can get suffocated or crushed. However, this behavior did let Shae and I know when we hit the sweet spot in regards to their brooder's heat levels, because almost immediately after making some final adjustments, the chicks began walking around, playing, and eating.

The final brooder preparations are a bit of blur in my memory already, but it took me, my father, and John from Santa Cruz a good chunk of time to finish them up, while Shae, Janina and her daughter, and John’s mother watched the chicks in the house.

Everything ended up going pretty well. The brooders are warm and safe and my last minute addition of a reptile thermostat has been effective at maintaining the temperature and keeping the energy costs down. Even with having to wake up several times during the night to make sure the heat was still on, I’d say that this has been a great experience so far... even though this is officially only Day 2 of batch #1.

Here we go.