Much to my surprise I'm spending nearly half of my day with the chicks... either cleaning the brooder, refilling/cleaning their food and water dishes, handling/playing with them to keep them used to people, or just watching them interact with each other.
As Francine and Delilah get bigger, we are increasingly concerned by the marked physiological differences... longer tail, shiny neck feathers, flat chest/butt... basically we think Francine is a Frank... and that just won't work for our purposes. We went to Pistils Nursery to get more chick feed and asked about getting another chick so Delilah wouldn't be lonely if/when we have to send Frank off to live on a real farm somewhere. Unfortunately, their chick season is over, but we got loads of good advice & a list of other places to get chicks, from both the staff and another customer. I followed their recommendation and went to Burns Feed store to pick up a 4 day old chick. The staff was very helpful and even offered to take Ellis for a walk and treats while I was in the "chick room".
While there, I learned that Rhode Island Reds are very bossy and that we should not have more than one. I was also told I should get two to introduce to the flock, as they always do better in pairs. Since there was a 3 week age difference, this made a lot of sense as I was quite concerned about two "teenage" chickens hassling the baby. I picked up a Black Sex-Link [which sounds like an x-rated website, I know] and a Silver Laced Wyandotte. We named them Foxy Brown and Betty Davis respectively.
Betty Davis eyes the camera
Foxy Brown is a little more camera shy
I was surprised to learn that we didn't need to keep them separated from Francine and Delilah. I was told to rub a towel on the older chicks, then rub the same towel on the babies and introduce them to one of the big girls at a time. If there was any pecking or aggression, take the aggressor out and put them in a dark place with no food or water for a few seconds. Then reintroduce. Keep doing this until they figure out it's bad to pick on babies... Luckily no one had to go into solitary confinement. The girls all got along right away. The problem is that as F & D get bigger, they're a bit gangly and unaware of their own size/strength. I decided that a day of rest was in order for the babes and put them in a separate box anyway, so they could get more sleep/food/water. They're all back together now, though, and seem to be getting along just fine.