Thursday, June 28, 2007
Did someone say "Peep"?
Once again, the beauty of random life has entered the farm. Going out to start morning barn chores, I walked to the chicken house, remembering that it was exactly 21 days since I placed some fertilized eggs from another farm under my broody hens. Being a novice chicken owner, I was perplexed when they had suddenly quit laying about a month ago, but appeared healthy. As usual, I consulted my plethora of chicken books, online sources, and friendly chicken freaks [as one of my farm friends said, 'Chickens are almost a cult" - this appears to be true]. I learned quickly the traits
of a broody hen, and I had 4 of them. So what the heck, I gave them what they wanted, eggs. I guess many of us ladies at some point in life, have that instinctive desire to curl up and nurture an egg, protect it, and hatch it. I confess, I like children, but the gotta-have-a-baby thing never clicked on me. I'm grateful, as I am a much better mother to sheep and rodents and weeds. If I forget to put Rosemary in, she would head to the barn [I have never forgotten to do this by the way], but if I forgot to put the baby to bed, where would it make a nest? In the corner near the blanket where Huck often settles?
So, it was not a surprise, but it was a surprise, to open up the chicken house to see a teeny little head. Then another, then another, and another. "My God!" I gasped. "It worked..." I actually gasped this to myself... I was so excited I dropped my morning donkey carrots, and fled to the house like a school girl on the run for pancakes, ran into Martyn's office and said "Chicks!"...
I spent the rest of morning panicking. I had read - and read - about what new chicks needed, but had just not really expected any chicks...This is referred to as "Unexpected New Chick Syndrome"...Fortunately, after several emails to Whitey, an experienced broody chicken herself , and a call to the woman who gave me the fertilized eggs, I quickly created special little holding areas out of dog crates within the chicken house, so chicks and hens and remaining unhatched eggs are safe, and able to have water and feed.
I am now in the stage of "Post-Unexpected New Chick Syndrome" in which I am assuming all the eggs that are going to hatch, have. This is somewhat irrational, as there are 4 chicks, and 8 more eggs being sat on. I am praying for mainly girlie chicks.
One day you have some hens, the next day you have hens and chicks. Let's hear it for Henny, Henny Jenny, Henny Penny, and Zucchi for their setting skills. If I were lost in the woods, and I was really teeny, I would want one of these hens to keep me warm -have you ever felt the underbelly and chest of a mother hen? You must.