It’s not often that we bring home chicks from Broad Ripple, but that’s exactly what we did in mid-January. They made a bit of a racket on the drive, but they were such cute little balls of fluff it was worth it.

More than a year ago we inherited a small flock of older hens from our neighbors. We’ve lost a few over the years due to illness, a hawk and old age. Recently an idea hatched to replace our losses.

We purchased our little ones from Agrarian (agrarianindy.com). They’re a second-party distributor of chicks specifically for urban farmers. They purchase the chicks directly from a large-scale operation which allows Agrarian customers to get the type of hen they’d like in much smaller numbers, even as few as a single chick. Alternatively buying chicks online, there is often a minimum order of eight and sometimes as high as 15. Agrarian sells 61 different breeds, although each breed is not available each week. Because the chicks can be challenging to distinguish, they often will only sell different looking varieties in the same week.

Agrarian has a money-back guarantee that chicks will live for the first 48 hours. For an additional fee they offer rooster insurance and will replace or refund eligible male chicks. Their pickup service is quite simple and they sell anything an urban farmer might need.

We discovered that raising chicks isn’t as complicated as it might appear. There are a few necessary household items, and anything else can be picked up at Tractor Supply or Agrarian. We borrowed a large tub (to serve as a brooder) that we filled with pine shavings. Then added a small waterer and feeder, a heat lamp bulb attached to a regular lamp, and a thermometer to ensure the temperature is warm enough. As the chicks continued to grow, we transferred them to a dog crate. Their only requirements are ensuring the temperature in the brooder is comfortable, that they have consistent food and water, and that their brooder is cleaned every few days.

Our current flock is growing older – chickens lay eggs for the first six years or so of their life, and then only live a few years after that. New chicks begin laying eggs when they’re 18 weeks old and their egg production will be consistent for the next two to three years before it begins to slow. The addition of ChewBOKa, Hen Solo and Cluck Vadar will ensure we have eggs through the winter.

We’ve watched the chicks with fascination as their fluff turned into feathers and as their curiosity has taken over. Soon we’ll merge them into the existing flock and that will be a completely new adventure. 

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