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The Chick Update (Don’t Mess with Mother Nature)

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My mother always taught us to not mess with Mother Nature, but it’s a very hard lesson to adhere to.  Thus, we’ve had an exciting two days of eagerly watching and, consequently, interfering with, our mama hen and her chicks.
Mother and Chick
On Friday she hatched out two little chicks.  I could not resist visiting her often to catch a glimpse, but they rarely peeked out.  Her nest was in one of the nesting boxes, which are raised. I worried one would fall behind her into a gap it couldn’t get out of, and it did. Good thing I visited so often and found it! Took its picture, returned it to mom, and filled the gap with hay. Yesterday, Sunday, I saw that one of them had tumbled out of the nest onto the floor of the coop.  He could not get back up into the nest. Again, a picture and returned to mom.
IMG_6811
But now, as we were headed out to Philadelphia for the day, worried about the getting more active chicks falling out and not getting back.  Started to think that the mother wouldn’t leave the nest because she still had some unhatched eggs under her. Took a look at the eggs and was about to toss them when two of them PEEPED at me. Hastily shoved them back under her. Went to Philadelphia bearing in mind Paul’s advice that if nature programs have taught us anything, it’s that if the chick can’t get out of the egg, it can’t survive in the world. Now, chickens are not like mammals who might be upset at having their things handled, but I was worried that we had interfered.
When we got home from the zoo at 8 o’clock last night we saw that she had moved her nest. To the ground. I wonder how they all got out? Down the steep ramp? That would have been a sight to see.
her new location
We do have a good fence around the coop so I put some hay around her and tightly closed the door. But first I took the eggs she had left behind and we stuck them under our lamp.  Imagine my total surprise this morning to find out that one of the eggs hatched!!! I thought the chick was dead, but it peeped. They kind of look dead when first hatched-limp and wet and floppy.  I scooped it up, ran it outside, and shoved it under the mother hen.  I have to assume that the other peeping egg I heard simply had the chick die inside (sometimes that happens), which is sad, but hey this one will hopefully live.
Checking in on her a little while later we were delighted to see that the now-two-days-old chicks in her brood were out having their first scratch about.  I was surprised how far away they were from their mother and they were a delight to watch. I didn’t want to frighten the mother and I didn’t have my big zoom, so the pics are not that great yet.
IMG_6907
I’m glad she remained on her nest, instead of scratching about with them–she is keeping #3 warm and alive!
Now we await the shipment of hatchery chicks, which departed Iowa yesterday.  We’ll be receiving 25 chicks through the post office today or tomorrow.  But Sarah, you’re saying, what do you need with all these chickens? Here’s why 25.  First of all, we currently have a flock of 10 chickens, 2 of which are roosters.  In the 4 or 5 years we’ve had chickens this is the first time any of our hens has successfully hatched chicks.   25 is the minimum order necessary from the hatchery, and if you use a hatchery you can actually select the breeds you want.  So yes, 25 is a lot, and by next summer we’ll be swamped with eggs, but they are delightful creatures and we enjoy having them.  It will be interesting to compare the chicks we’ll be raising under the heat lamp vs. the chicks being raised by their mother.

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About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

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