The baby chickens that live in the brooder in the barn are six weeks old, and have all their feathers. It's a good thing, too, because after their heat lamp nearly started a fire, I've been afraid to use it. Don't worry, I didn't burn down the barn. Almost, maybe, but I caught it in time.
I got home from work a little early, and went out to the barn to see if the baby chickens needed fresh water. I could smell smoke as soon as I walked in the barn. The heat lamp, which was supposed to be clamped and wired to the lid of the brooder, was laying in the wood chips, and the chips were smoldering! The little chickens were unconcerned, and some of them were cuddled up with the warm light like it was a hot water bottle.
Birds aren't known for having tough respiratory systems, so I was very thankful that I hadn't put a lid on the brooder like I was doing when the temps were really low. Once I unplugged the light and pulled it out of the brooder, I could see the black burnt wood chips with glowing orange embers. Oh my gosh! The chickens could have been asphyxiated and the barn could have burned down! All of our tools would be lost. And I'm pretty sure that the barn is close enough to the house that it would have melted the siding and the windows of the house. Or even burned the house down too! My hands were shaking.
I didn't realize that the swivel part of the clamp light could come apart. I guess someone must have decided the light would be a nice warm spot to roost, and they broke the clamp off the light. Once I got the light out of the brooder, I poured the chicks drinking water on the glowing embers. Then I had to dig up all the scorched wood chips just to make sure there weren't any left to smoulder into flames. There's about five inches of bedding and chicken poo in the bottom of the brooder, and the bedding was black and burnt down about two inches. Whew. Just thinking about it makes me nervous all over again.