The post office actually called us this morning, two hours before they opened, because the lady felt bad for them cheeping in their little box. So the Big Man picked them up and moved them to their bigger box -- the brooder -- where they spent the day lightly pecking at each others' butts, running about on top of each other, tanning, and drinking a lot of water. You have to teach them about food and water by dunking their heads in each when you put them in the brooder. That's apparently enough for them to figure it out, because they had worked through a surprising amount of each by the time I got home from work. They are also extremely interested in trying to catch any fly that happens into their space. Alert and active -- that's what you want to see at this stage.

They seem to like their little box, but I tend to freak them out and send them screaming for the corners when I poke my nose in. That's a big bonus of the cow trough that we're using as a brooder -- no actual corners for chicks to get stuck and crushed in.

At this point, our main concern is to keep them warm, watered, fed and protected. I am anxious to see if the heavy chicken wire top is enough protection from predators. I wouldn't be nervous, but for two sightings of 3 foot long milk snakes in the past two days.

Ideally, their brooder would be somewhere with more natural light, their bedding would be deeper and made of wood shavings, and we would be using river sand as a grit instead of...whatever the Agway gave us. A mortality rate of 1 to 2% is expected for most chicks. Since most of ours are bizarre old breeds, they are supposed to be a bit hardier. We shall see.