Twenty-eight chicks plus eight chicks plus eight more chicks equals... a whole lot of chicks to try to keep track of without pulling out our collective hair. Fortunately, one set of eight — our Silkies and our White-Crested Polish chick, Stefanski — were in their own brooder and were distinctive enough to easily identify. The other set of eight — our original "Big Chicks" — were also in their own brooder and were also easily identified. But the others? That required some keen observation and a touch of creativity, something that I didn't necessarily have after two days of chick overload.
"Reginald," he declared. "That's a proper gentleman's name."
"It's a Columbian Wyandotte, not a British Wyandotte," I pointed out.
"You can't say no to Winston," M protested. "It's a proper name for a proper little chick."
"We don't even know if Winston is a boy or girl!" I pointed out, picking up the chick in question and stroking its chubby back.
M ignored my comment, however, and laughed. "Ha! You called him Winston!" he chortled, dancing around in the limited sitting-room space. I just shook my head. I'd ordered two girls and a boy, which meant that Winston might end up being Winnie or Nigel might end up as Nigella... or both. I decided to give the third Columbian Wyandotte a female name to balance everything out. Columbia? Boring. Collie? Hmmm... poultry, not puppy. Lumbie? Sounded like a chick with back problems. My ingenuity failing me, I settled for Luella, figuring Lou would be the fallback if she ended up being a he.
That left our three remaining Cuckoo Marans, the chocolate-brown egg layers I'd so looked forward to having in our flock. Since the breed originates from the French town of Maran, I'd planned to come up with French names for the trio of black-and-white pullets. Sadly, I only had to come up with two names. The mess more than two dozen chicks left on their paper towels became too much for J to bear, both visually and olfactorally. The offending towels were removed, exposing a sea of pine shavings just waiting to be explored and rolled in. We'd forgotten, however, that the Cuckoo Marans were several days younger than the rest of our chick battalion and therefore more prone to peck at the shavings than their older broodermates. We found one of the Maran chicks dead, her beak parted with the saliva-expanded pine shavings she had eaten. Little Una (because she was the first Cuckoo Maran to come out of the shipping carton) joined Spot and Honey out in the back, leaving Marianne and Martine behind as the only dark egg layers in our entire flock.
Which of course wouldn't do. I'd simply have to order more chicks.