Here is what I knew when we arrived at home with the cardboard box and our supplies: The chicks needed to stay warm and they were going to live in the garage until we built a coop somewhere on our land. And that they were probably still all ladies and we would probably get some eggs from most of them at some point.
Upon arrival, we carried all of our stuff into the garage and I began to assess the situation. Ideally, we would have had a place ready for them but B seemed confident that he knew exactly what he was doing. Due to his many years of chicken raising on that farm in Alberta, of course… After resolving some mild frustration around the state of our garage, we sprung into action. We had only moved into our house a few months prior and had no area for storage yet, making our garage a giant repository for anything that didn’t find a home in the house or was a tool of some sort.
First up, the box. Out come a few 2x4s, a box of screws, a tape measure, the drill and a large sheet of OSB. This was getting exciting! Not only did he have all the tools for the job but he seemed to have a plan and supreme focus. That didn’t stop the flood of questions that came out of my mouth as he began measuring and cutting the plywood. How fast would they grow? Was the box he was building big enough or would they feel lost in it? Would we need a box in between this one and the four walls that would house them on the land? B grunted in response and if someone were watching the scene from the outside, it might have seemed that I didn’t care that the conversation was mostly one-way.
Suddenly satisfied that we were on the right track, I left him alone and attempted to clear a space for the box. Not being good at math and not getting much feedback, I wasn’t exactly sure how big it would be but with a glance up to the rafters of the garage, spied the perfect spot to suspend a light over a box. I started moving things away from underneath that spot and soon enough, the box was built and we shoved it into the center of the garage. OSB is way heavier than it looks, by the way.
We managed to tear into the tightly packed brick of pine shavings we had purchased and in came the bedding, the plastic waterer and the feeder. And, in came 10 chicks. They wandered around peeping and I was amazed at how quickly they discovered the water and food. They bent over the waterer, then lifted their tiny heads high to allow the water to slide down their gullets. I watched in amazement as they scratched and pecked like veterans and immediately discovered where the lamp was casting the most heat. I was finally able to stop worrying and relax as I watched them adopt their new space.
By this point in the story, I had fretted about many things. Was the OSB getting too wet while we cut it outside and what if the chicks were too cold or too hot while we built it? The brooder lamp had been positioned above the cardboard box while we built the bigger box, dwarfing it, and I hoped they weren’t roasting. I fixated on whether or not they would suffocate each other, because that can happen if you don’t nail the heat settings.
At the end of the day, with brooder lamp appropriately suspended above the 4′ X 4′ box with its walls that still seemed a bit too high and hearing the sound of contended peeping of warm chicks, I was able to close the door to the detached garage and know that I would make it at least 2 hours without checking on them again.