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Janelle sighed, “Grama, are chicks really as soft as they look?”
“You’ll soon learn for yourself, they’ll be here tomorrow …” Grama exclaimed.
“Oh, Oh-h-h I can‘t wait, ” Janelle squealed with delight, but then looking around, “but Grama… where will you keep them… your kitchen is way too small.”
“Oh sweetie,“ said Grama, stifling a laugh, “I won’t put them in here, I have a chicken house for them.
“A chicken house….where?”
“The little house in back…in fact, I was going to get it ready, want to help?”
“I’d love to help,” throwing her arms around Grama’s neck, “Oh Grama, I’m so glad we decided to live here.”
“Me too, sweetheart, me too. Lets go.”
So armed with bucket, broom and a large paint roller taped onto the end of an old broom handle, off they went. Grama opened the door and swept away a large cobweb. The little house was empty, stale and dusty.
“Whew…Janelle, you start sweeping while I go get some warm water and, oh,” said Grama chuckling, “Don’t forget the walls.”
“Grama…” laughed Janelle, but she quickly removed her jacket and set to work. She worked hard, by the time Grama came back she was just about done.
“Good girl, now to whitewash the walls.”
“Whitewash? How come…they’re still sorta white?”
“Well,” said Grama pouring some smelly stuff into the pail of warm water, “For one, we aren’t painting but disinfecting.”
“Phew,” said Janelle, hands flying up to cover her nose, “Is that what that is? ”
“Here… you can do this,” said Grama, handing Janelle the long handled paint roller. “Why don’t you start on the far wall.”
“How come we have to do this?” Janelle asked, dipping the roller into the pail.
“It’s a strong sanitizer that gets rid of any nasty bugs that may have come in over the winter or disease that might be lurking in the floor or the cracks of the boards.”
Grama took a smaller brush and began applying the whitewash around the door.
“This is fun, it won’t take long,” said a grinning Janelle as she sloshed the whitewash on the walls and floor.”
“We’ll have to let it dry for a couple of hours but by then we should be finished lunch and we can set up the brooder.”
“Brooder? What’s that?”
“A small house within the house,” said Grama smiling as she caught the puzzled look on her granddaughter’s face.
“Things sure work funny around a farm Grama.” said Janelle shaking her head.
After lunch Grandpa went with them to the chicken house carrying a big metal funnel shaped thing that had a light socket in it. It looked like a huge old swag lamp. Janelle was bursting with curiosity but thought she’d wait and see what they did with it. Grandpa attached all the wiring on the ceiling for it and ran the electric cord over to the plug in by the door and then left his ladies to finish off.
Janelle helped Grama lift the lamp off the floor about twelve inches.
“That won’t give very much light Grama.” said Janelle as she puzzled over the strange arrangement.
“Light?” asked Grama, and then laughed as she understood her granddaughter’s confusion. “It’s not a lamp honey, it’s a brooder.”
“A brooder, it’s close to the floor and with the heat lamp in the brooder, our baby chicks will stay nice and warm. We’ll spread sawdust on the floor and it will be like living under the wing of a big mama hen. They’ll feel safe and warm.”
“Oh I get it…but what happens when they get bigger?”
“We lift it up a little at a time, see…” said Grama as she lifted the brooder up and down on the pulley. “And if it gets real cold we can let it down again to keep them warm.”
“How will the chicks know to go the brooder?” asked Janelle looking around the chick house.
“Oh that’s easy, what are going to put up cardboard walls in a circle around the brooder. It will give them a smaller safer home for their first few weeks and they can’t crowd into a corner. They’ll also learn what their feeders are. Here Janelle, you take this side of the cardboard and we’ll start making the circle.”
After an hour they were finished with the cardboard walls and had the sawdust spread evenly on the floor.
“Now only one thing left to do.” said Grama satisfactorily surveying their work.
“I know,” said Janelle triumphantly, “their food and their water!”
“Good girl, you are going to make a great farmer,” laughed Grama, “in the feed house are two long feeders with lots of holes in it, you get them while I get their feed, okay? Their water, we’ll take care of tomorrow when they get here.” Nodding in assent Janelle raced to the feed house in front of Grama. Soon they had the feeders set up with special chick feed, all ready for the chicks the next day. All they needed now was the chicks.
Morning finally came and as soon as she heard Grandpa‘s truck, Janelle raced over to the chicken house. Carefully Grandpa brought out a huge box and quickly carried it into the cozy warm chick house. Grama had already turned the heat light on. Finally the lid came off the boxes.
“Oh Grama…look… listen to their cheeps,” said Janelle in wonderment as she watched the chicks peck at the walls of their box, “they are so cute…”
“Here Janelle, gently pick up one chick and dip its head carefully, like so, into the water so it can have a drink. Then let it go.” With much care and tenderness, Janelle picked up each one and introduced the chick to it’s new home. Soon all were in and exploring in great detail, and much peeping, their new surroundings.
“Yellow ones, black ones…I don’t know where to look first” laughed Janelle, missing the satisfied look on her grandparents faces as they watched their own little chick with delight.
© 2010 UlrikeGrace