Joyce suggested that I set up the brooder and practice getting the temperature right before the chicks arrive. Good thing I listened to her.
We decided last night to use an old aquarium to get started. If a 4 ft x 3 ft tank is enough for 25 chicks (per my Raising Chickens for Dummies book) then a 2 ft x 1 ft is enough for 6 chicks that need a minimum of 6 square inches per chick for the first month.
I set up the brooder on the porch, turned on the light and set the thermostat. For the next few hours the temp hovered at about 85 to 90; it needs to be 95 for the first week. So I moved the light so that it was shining more directly into the tank and added a cover, and went to bed.
When I got up with the dogs at 5 AM (who knows why they get up then, but it’s a daily ritual) I checked the tank and it was 110 degrees, which is the highest the thermometer goes. Oops, if there were chicks, I think they’d have been toast at that point.
More adjustments and we’ll see how it goes today. Apparently, because I’m using an infared light bulb, the best indication of whether the temperature is right is where the chicks are in the brooder. Which means I won’t be able to tell if I’m on the money until they get here.
Which, right now, is in 13 days, 23 hours, and 27 minutes.