Chicken Run – Bringing home the Chicks

Instead of having our new crop of heritage chicks shipped to us from Ontario we decided incorporate the pick-up into our annual trip to Ontario. The chicks would have been shipped to Halifax, a four and half hour trip one way, whereas in Ontario they were only 2 ½ hours out of our way, so we made the bold decision to transport 63 3-day old chicks 1800 km.

Day 2 of our trip - One of the many beautiful places along the St Lawrence Seaway Islet Sur Mer, Quebec
Day 2 of our trip – One of the many beautiful places along the St Lawrence Seaway
Islet Sur Mer, Quebec

After several relaxing days visiting with our eldest son and his girlfriend in Ottawa, Dave and I began the “Chicken Run”. We left camp behind schedule, went off-course temporarily, encountered several roads under construction and, on top of that, it was a very long time before we found a spot for coffee and a quick breakfast. Needless to say we arrived at the chick hatchery 45 minutes later than planned. That delayed us and we didn’t get underway for another hour and a half. Google Maps said our destination was ten and a half hours away. That didn’t include fuel and food stops. Darn!

The plan was to transport the chicks in the backseat with the dogs and then overnight them in the truck with a micro furnace to keep them warm. The first part of that plan fell through when Shamus thought we had just bought him 63 “two-bite brownies”. Sigh. New plan. It was 30+ degrees in Ontario and slightly cooler in Quebec making the trailer quite warm. So with the box of chicks now travelling in the trailer there were a few extra stops as we periodically checked the status of our precious cargo.

The trip back home was going to be hard driving. No unnecessary stops meant pictures taken while travelling 100 km/hr (through a bug-smeared windshield). The Tourist Season starts a lot later in New Brunswick than it does in Ontario. There’s always less green and the temperatures are usually cooler. It’s hard to find campgrounds open this early in the season. We needed a site with electricity. That meant we had 1000 km to drive that day.

By 8pm I was sure we weren’t going to make it. Not reaching the campsite meant sleeping at a truck stop with no electricity. That translated into sharing the trailer with a smelly box of noisy chicks. Chicks need to be kept warm – ideally 30 degrees Celsius – the trailer was going to be hot and stuffy. I called the campground. The lovely owner didn’t care what time we arrived. She said, “Drive straight in to #8.” “Maybe we’ll see you”, I said.

Dave was determined. He was not going to sleep with the smelly chicks in a hot, stuffy trailer. So on we drove. At 3 am we pulled into to #8. Exhausted. Dave set up the truck (aka the brooder barn) for the chicks – folded down the rear seats and set up a micro furnace. I sorted the chicks into two boxes, and gave them food and water. By 4 am we put our exhausted selves to bed. At that point I was too tired to care and fell right asleep. Dave, on the other hand, worried. Was the truck too hot? Was the truck too cold? Was the micro furnace working?

The campground was quiet but I still woke up long before I wanted to. It was a short night. When we went to the truck we were greeted by 63 happily peeping chicks. Success! The longest part of the trip was complete.

The remainder of the drive was much easier and less stressful until I took the wrong fork in the road and ended up in Fredericton. After an uneventful detour (thank goodness for Google Maps) we were back on the highway. We carried on, stopping occasionally for fuel, puppy breaks, food, and to check on the babies. We made two scheduled stops that day: delivering brochures to the Visitor Information Centres in Amherst, NS and Port Hawkesbury, Cape Breton. We made an unscheduled stop at the St. Ann’s look off on the top of Kelly’s Mountain. You guessed it. There was a sunset to capture.

By 11pm Dave and I had the chicks safely tucked in to their new home and we were collapsed on the sofa enjoying a well deserved glass of wine.

I am totally thrilled to have turkeys again. They are, by far, the friendliest and most curious of the chicks. For the next few weeks it’s four trips to the barn a day  – a lot more work – but the cuteness factor totally outweighs the added work load.

And that is the end of yet another “never a dull moment” tale here at Seaweed and Sod Farm and Bed and Breakfast.

Until next time,


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