Tonight while holding my big Barred Rock rooster chick, Roo (left) I noticed that even though it was chilly, he wasn't shivering and his feet were warm (I took that photo last week). It was then I realized that I was keeping the heat lamp on the chicks for no reason. I took the 250 watt heat bulb out of the reflector and replaced it with a 60 watt incandescent bulb, which I will only use when I need the extra light to see. The chicks are fully feathered now and have proven to me that they can maintain their own body heat. When I hold them, they don't shiver or puff up to stay warm anymore. The temperature in their coop is 55 to 60 degrees at night.
Last week, during a particularly chilly 40-degree night, the outlet the heat lamp was plugged into quit working and needed to be reset. I'm not sure what the actual electrical term is, but if it was a circuit breaker, the term would be "blown". Anyway, the chicks went the entire night without their heat lamp because I was at work and didn't know the light wasn't on. I came home in the morning to find them all alive and well, but I plugged the lamp into a different outlet to turn it back on anyway.
I thought to myself, "You know, they really don't need the lamp anymore. You're doing this for yourself, not them." Today Roo confirmed what my gut was telling me last week.
So that's it--my chicks are now on their own at night. I bet they're sleeping great in their dark, cozy coop, nestled up next to each other the way chickens are supposed to sleep--not awake and partying all night long! They should be worn out from foraging in their large run for most of the day today.
I have three asparagus plants poking through the soil now. We planted 25 a few weeks ago. The boys helped me dig the trench for them, right on the bank of the pond. I was amazed to learn that asparagus needs to be planted very deep. I hope it turns out to be a good location for asparagus plants. They'll never struggle during the summer drought, being so close to a constant source of water. Yet they aren't waterlogged either, since they are above the level of the pond. When we dug the trench, the soil at the bottom of it was nice and moist, but not soggy. Now that I am seeing proof that they survived the transplanting process, my hunch must have been right. Now comes the hard part: waiting till next year to harvest our asparagus crop. I can't cut any this year because they are getting established. What a shame that we won't be able to enjoy that tasty asparagus till next year!
During my almost 39 years on this planet, one thing I've learned is that my gut instincts are never wrong. When instinct tells me that my chicks don't need a heat lamp anymore, or that the asparagus will do really well next to the pond, I know I can trust it.
*Update on Sweet Pea, the little Barred Rock pullet that was pecked 2 weeks ago. She is doing really well and her vent is now covered nicely with feathers, so no more tempting pink skin can be seen. No one picks on her anymore and she has turned into a wonderfully sweet, gentle little girl. She and Betty are my favorites! If I could have only one breed of chickens, I would choose Rocks.