“Alright Joe, since you cleaned your room we can go look at the chicks at the store.”
“Yay!” exclaimed Joe, punching the air, “Can we go now?”
“Let’s go after lunch, ok?”
Joe nodded his head and went to wash his hands before lunch.
After they were done and the dishes were in the sink, they got in the van and headed to Big R.
As soon as Joe walked in he made a beeline for the chicks, excitedly talking to them and asking a salesman, Tim, which were the best for laying eggs. His mom let him pick out the ones they were going to buy and they ended up heading out the door with 10 Rhode Island Red chicks instead of the 5-6 they had originally planned on.
“Mom,” Joe had said, “Tim said that we could lose a few of them so we had better get more than we planned. He said that introducing new chicks to the flock can be tricky.”
His mom had reluctantly agreed, thinking what a good sales tactic ‘Tim’ had used.
Once they got home, they prepared the temporary home for the chicks, fed and watered them and put a heat lamp over the whole ‘house’ to make sure they stayed nice and warm. Then Joe went upstairs to do some more research on the chicks.
Once they are full-grown, their feathers will have a rusty color with some darker shades mixed in. Their eyes can be any color and their feet are rusty looking as well.
The roosters could weigh as much as 8.5 pounds and the hens as much as 6.5 lbs. Joe’s mom said she hoped they didn’t have any roosters, but Joe secretly hoped they did. It would be so cool to hatch their own chicks!
They were originally created in Rhode Island and Massachusetts which is how they got their name. Rhode Island Red has a better ring to it than Massachusetts Red, thought Joe.
Once they start to lay, each hen could produce from 5-7 brown eggs per week.
“That means if all 10 survive, we could get up to 70 eggs a week!” Joe said to himself thinking that between the two of them, Jake and he could easily eat 30 eggs a week leaving 40 for his mom and dad and to share with family and friends.
Joe was amazed by all that the chickens would do for the garden. Their scratching helped aerate the soil and their poop helped to fertilize in preparation for planting. He was especially excited when he got to a list of bugs that they eat: grasshoppers, pill bugs, fleas, flies, lawn grubs, fire ants, scorpions, termites and the list goes on and on.
As he read further, he stopped short and jumped up, racing to the kitchen to find his mom.
“Mom! Guess what…guess what the chickens will eat for us?”
“Well let’s see…grains, worms, chicken scraps, seeds, bugs–”
“YES!” Joe interrupted. “That’s right, they eat bugs…a ton of different bugs from flies to all kinds of garden pests.”
“Really?” she asked, getting excited herself at the prospect of letting the chickens loose in the garden to hunt some of the pests that plagued their produce last year.
“That’s right! They eat aphids and squash bugs and loopers and horn worms and…Japanese Beetles!”
Ah, thought Joe’s mom, smiling in excitement, a new weapon in the beetle battle.