Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What happens when the lights go out?

Our chicks were a whomping six days old yesterday. What do you get for your sixth day in the world? A power outage! Unbeknownst to us at the time, it was a scheduled outage. I know they usually send out  a letter if the power will be off for any maintenance, but apparently this time we didn't get one (or we did and tossed it by mistake.)

Normally I would embrace a power outage. It's a time to move activities out of doors, and a time to listen to the quiet world around you. The problem with an outage this time of year is that it's chick season and so our little ladies, who are supposed to be kept at 90ยบ, became very cold, very quickly. Here's a run down of how yesterday's activities went. It was kind of rotten that it happened on the one super sunny day we've had in a while, and I got literally nothing accomplished yesterday because of it, but such is life when you keep livestok.

The power went out and with it went the heat lamp that had essentially been keeping the chicks alive. After a pause of shock, I ran to cover the chicks' brooder with a woolen blanket to hold in as much heat as I could. I then grabbed the chainsaw and dashed from the house out into the orchard to seek a dead-fall branch we could use for firewood. Of course yesterday would be the day we decide not to worry about being out of firewood. After cutting some wood, hauling it up the house and splitting it while Jeremy worked on warming the wood stove with what kindling he could, I realized it was going to take at least an hour to get the wood stove warm enough to produce the kind of heat we needed for the chicks!

I was struck with a harebrained idea and quickly gathered a nest of blankets. I then wrapped the chickies up in a piece of fleece that I wouldn't mind getting chickie poo on, sat down on the couch with them in my lap, and covered us all with the blankets. It was a quick decision and I probably could've spared an extra minute to plan what I should have within reach while acting as surrogate brooder, but I couldn't help myself. The little ladies were shivering and two had begun sneezing (a reaction to stress).

For nearly the next three hours I sat... and I sat... and I couldn't read because it was too dark, and I could only use the computer for the first little while because it had low battery, and I became antsy, and stir crazy, and nearly lost my mind. Jeremy ran out to get lunch (a power outage is a great excuse to get food from our favorite greek place!) and when he returned the wood stove was just warm enough that I could set up a brooder box by the fire for them.

Of course within fifteen minutes of getting the brooder box set up and tucking them into it, the power was back, the chicks were reintroduced to their old brooder, and I was running out the door to the horse farm to work.

Raising livestock is never a dull moment. I know before I'm old and grey I will have had all sorts of critters snuggled against me for warmth. It's an amazing experience to realize that it's truly you keeping a critter alive, and not some machine or apparatus designed for such.

Anyway, the chickies are all safe and sound, and after they returned home from their wonderful stay on my lap they made such a ruckus! I couldn't help but think it sounded like they were recounting their adventure, their amazing brush with death (I like to think they exaggerate), to one another.


  1. They could have been complaining that they missed that nice warm lap, complete with fleece and blankets. That was fast thinking! Now I don't feel so bad having knit little woolen sweaters for my newborn lambs...

  2. Wow! We just had a power outage here but luckily we didn't have our chicks yet. I'm following you on Twitter (as Twayblade) to see what other problems you solve! I may have some solutions too!