Why yes, I am! (Scary sh*t - I know!!!)
So - where we left-off: I had placed an order from a local hatchery (A Hatchery in California - but I won't name them, specifically) back in March, right?
Auto-Responder email: We will ship your chicks on June 16.
Srsly? THREE MONTHS?!!
So I got to work with "getting ready." Bought my coop. Put it together. Hired a friend's son to do the "beefing up." Then I waited. And waited. And waited...
In the meantime, I'm reading all of the local "Chicken Message Boards" and hearing about all these "Baby Chick" opportunities (4-H, Local Feed-stores, yada-yada). Nope. I've got chicks on order - just gotta be patient!
June 16, I get the Shipment-Notification email... They're being over-nighted to my local post-office. So - first thing on Tuesday June 17, I call the post office to let 'em know I am expecting a shipment of live chicks "Please call me when they arrive - I don't want them going out in a hot truck!"
9:45am, I get a call from the post office. 10:00am, I am there to pick 'em up!
Post-Office Lady brings me my (suspiciously quiet) package. I opened it - only to discover five DEAD chicks.
Hatchery guarantees satisfaction, so I snapped a pic of my FIVE DEAD CHICKS and sent 'em an email. I also tried calling - only to discover that they don't answer their phone (Message says "Send us an email").
Several emails back-and-forth. End result: "We cannot issue a refund. We can send you a replacement shipment - IN AUGUST - "when it's cooler."
Excuse me?! You're in the Central Valley (where temps are ROUTINELY in the triple-digits)... Not sure if, maybe, you're in a different State of California but I am 110% certain that it is NOT "cooler" in August!
Admittedly, I am pretty-spoiled with Amazon Prime and free 2-day shipping. I've gotten fairly accustomed to having my orders arrive *mere minutes* after I hit "Submit!" (Okay, I exaggerate a little!). I'm just not comfortable with waiting FIVE MONTHS for an order placed in March, right?!
"No. That is not acceptable, please refund my money."
Followed by Radio Silence! No reply from the hatchery....
"Well, f**k you and the horse you rode in on!"
The Sucky Part was: When I paid for my online order, I chose "PayPal" as my payment method. Now I know, from past experience, that PayPal is pretty strict with their timelines. I pretty-much *knew* that PayPal wasn't gonna help me with my purchase (over 90 days old) so - screw that - I went straight to my credit card company (and I *know* I am in good-standing with them - MASSIVE limits, High-Usage, Prompt Payment History, and Very-Impressive Credit-Score).
Chase, as it turns out, was *most* sympathetic and VERY willing to accommodate my charge-back request. Yay for them!
So my next email, to the (Nameless HATCHERY in CALIFORNIA) was something of a Hum-Dinger! My Mom - back in her heyday - was a force to be reckoned-with, whenever she went-off on one of her Letter-Writing Campaigns (she wielded a Mighty Poison Pen!). Thankfully, I inherited mom's Poison-Pen Letter-Writing-Skills. I pretty-much let 'em have it with both barrels. The general gist being "We can do this the easy way - or the hard way! You can either cancel my order and refund my money, or else I'll initiate a charge-back thru my Credit Card *AND* I will notify the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and ALL of the 'Backyard Chicken Forums' that I belong to..."
Long-Story-Short (too late!). The very next morning, I saw that a refund had been initiated by the hatchery. Yay!
Of course, that still left me with an empty coop. But at least I wasn't stuck paying $95.00 for a box of dead chickens, right?!
Sooooo.... Next up: A "Lurker is De-Lurking" post to the Silicon Valley Chickens board...
I expressed my desire to obtain 3 chicks/hens that would produce different colored eggs - but that I really-really-really wanted a White-Crested Black-Polish.
No luck on the White-Crested Black Polish, but a gal up in Fremont had a few extra Silver-Laced and Golden-Laced Polish pullets that she would be willing to sell me.
Soooooo... Meet The Girls (dubbed my "Vegas Showgirls" by a Facebook Friend!)
Meet Tina Turner!
And Phyllis Diller-Miller!
So this is the point where I should be happy, right? And I am. Don't get me wrong. I actually like having pullets (kinda like a teenager). I don't need to give-up Studio Space for a temporary brooder (cardboard box with heat lamp). These girls should start laying sooner, so all is good - right?!
Wellllll... They are *supposed* to be hens - but no guarantee (and Roosters are verboten in suburban San Jose!). So I'm keeping an eye on The Vegas Showgirls and - sadly - Tina-Turner looks like she might be developing "saddle feathers" (sorry - no decent pics - but "saddle feathers" are long, skinny feathers that form over the "rump" and drape-down on either side of the tail-feathers). If Tina turns into Tony (Tina starts crowing), then Tina gots 'ta go! And that would leave me with ONE lonely hen. Not a good situation!
So now I'm fretting about what the hell am I gonna do if Tina is really Tony, and how am I gonna get rid of him, and how am I gonna get another "compatible" hen if that's the case, and yada-yada...?
Yeah. I'm neurotic. Deal with it!
Yeah... So... Jury's still out on the whole "Tina vs. Tony" issue. But I figure it can't hurt to ask the Chicken-Gal if she has any more "extra" Polish Pullets she'd be willing to sell to me. As luck would have it, she did have one more Silver-Laced Polish Pullet that she was willing to let-go. So I drove up, last night, and picked up another "girl."
Meet Henny Kravitz (she has less gray than Phyllis - so at least I can tell 'em apart!)
Henny seems to be adapting, okay. But Phyllis, as it turns out, is a bit of a bully. Nevertheless, I think they are "transitioning" okay (certainly easier than trying to introduce new "babies" to the mix).
And - added bonus - I got to check out some adult Polish Hens and, it turns out, that the Saddle Feathers (that had me so freaked-out) may NOT be indicative of Tina being a rooster. So - worst-case - I end up with three (low-productivity) hens. So not a bad situation at all - since it's just Hubs and Me (and we aren't HUGE egg-eaters!).
So yeah - bottom line: I've got three chickens now. Hopefully, all are "hens:" - but I have a backup plan if one turns out to be a rooster. Now it's just a waiting game to make sure that all ARE, in fact, hens. Then we get eggs to eat!
Right now I am working on acclimating them to "cuddling!" I go out, twice a day, to pick 'em up and hand-feed 'em. And they get treats galore (mushy peaches? - YUM!). I have determined that they *don't* like Super-Hot Weather (got to over 103* in the shade, earlier this week!), so I've setup a shade-umbrella over their run and am looking into buying a hose-end mister - to keep 'em cool on the Super-Hot Days (fortunately - not super-common around here).
Anyhooooo... I am SUPER happy to have my new Vegas Showgirls! More to come, I'm sure.....