`Peep Show' in full swing around Elbert County

Chicks for sale at multiple feed and ranch stores

George Lurie
Warehouse supervisor Renee Kallio and one of her cute chicks.
George Lurie
A sign of spring at Kiowa Country Corner.
George Lurie
A trio of little peepers strut their stuff at Kiowa Country Corner on March 12.

The county's annual “peep show” is in full swing — which means spring must be right around the corner.

In the past few weeks, area feed and ranch supply businesses have stocked up with dozens of varieties of hatchlings and now folks are flocking in to purchase the fluffy little “cheepers.”

A sign outside one store reads: "Check out our cute chicks."

“Between our two stores, we handle about 8,000 to 10,000 chicks each year,” said Renee Kallio, warehouse supervisor at Kiowa Country Corner Ranch and Feed Supply, which is operated by the same family that owns Elizabeth Country Corner in Elizabeth.

The chicks, which sell for between $3 and $5 a piece, are a popular draw for local feed stores and in the main showroom at Kiowa Country Corner, where they chirp softly and hop around their cages, which are stacked three and four high off the floor.

The store carries more than 75 different breeds of fowl chicks, Kallio said. “We get them from a number of different suppliers all the way into May. Then the goose, duck and quail chicks start arriving,” she said. “People like to buy them for 4H projects, or so they can have a steady supply of fresh eggs at home.”

After taking home a few chicks herself, Vanessa Watson, a cashier at the store, said she did some Internet research about the birds. “When they grow into chickens, they'll typically provide eggs for up to eight or nine years,” Watson said. “But their first two or two and a half years are supposed to be their prime egg-laying years.”

Gently scooping one of the critters out of its cage, Kallio said, “Who could resist something this cute?”