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By Ben DiMeolo

Ben_Headshot2Having been the intern here at Four Corners Farm for a month or so now, and having settled in a bit, I have chosen my favorite spot on the farm, for now . . . One might guess that it’s with the ever animated pigs as they root through the woods and graze on an especially succulent spot of grass; or collecting eggs with the hard working layers as they scratch and peck in the open air and sunshine; or moving the broilers to a daily new, fresh salad bar out in the pasture. Those would all be good guesses. But I’ve come to enjoy most the brooder hut where newly arrived chicks await maturity to move to the pasture. Quite some distance from the hut one can hear excited and happy chicks chirping away; this lets us know that what we are doing is right. These chicks take quite the level of care, and we are happy to give it.

Brooder_ChicksHappy chicks = happy farmer, and it is very pleasing to know we are starting these guys and gals out on the right foot. For one, they need warmth till their feathers arrive. This is accomplished through heat lamps, and most importantly through an ever composting litter bed that radiates heat gently, mimicking the warmth of a mother hen. Here at Four Corners Farm, we use playground mulch for bedding with additions of peat moss in between batches, daily turned and stirred to incorporate manure and provide a soft spot for the chicks to do what chickens do best: scratch, peck and dust bathe. It is quite the sight to see when we stir the bedding for these little guys. They almost immediately start to scratch and dig. And they are rather particular about the holes they dig. You’ll see a couple quick kicks of the legs and some bedding thrown out of the way, the chick will then pause, step back and inspect his work, then, if to his satisfaction, burrow in for a nap or a bath in the brooder hut at Four Corners Farm, where chicks get to be chicks, happy and healthy… and interns, too.

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