If you’ve ever seen a cartoon or read a picture book you might think that when a hen has baby chicks she hears peep! peep! crack! crack! gets up and all of her eggs are neatly cracked open with peeping bouncy chicks in them. FALSE. If you’ve ever seen that “miracle of life” chick hatching display at the 4-H Fair then you know it actually takes a while for them to emerge from the egg. But still, you certainly would not expect the ridiculous behaviors going on in the nest.
The two hens continue to share care of the chicks. I believe I was mistaken with my original count of 4 chicks-there were really 3. The chicks go back and forth between the hens, hopping on top of them, burrowing under them, and late today coming out for food one at a time with them.
There are still many, many eggs underneath the hens. This makes it hard for them to walk around and get up, and also they seem more concerned with sitting on the eggs than with caring for the new chicks.
The pretty golden chick is being picked on by the Quicksilver hen. When it is out near her she keeps pecking it. I have found it with dried blood on both sides of its face. I hope she hasn’t blinded it. I hope she doesn’t kill it. I hope the other hen will take good care of it. When I’ve seen her doing that I have taken the chick and put it under the other hen. Yes, that’s right picked it up. For, with this group, I’ve found it irresistible to meddle and have handled the adorable babies.
This afternoon I saw an egg beginning to hatch. Quicksilver pecked at it and I didn’t know if she’s just totally mental or was trying to help. The shell was gone on about 1/3 the egg, leaving the membrane, with a hole in one part of it. I could see it bulge and peep occasionally. Checking in later (seriously, my whole day was spent observing and meddling) I saw that it was more often stretching out.
Further checking in showed another egg rolled on top of it. Oh, and before that I was easily able to see because neither hen was sitting on it. When I took the egg off I feared the chick had died as it seemed still, though now both its legs were sticking out. At this point I picked up the egg, it peeped and moved and, despite all lessons learned that you shouldn’t mess with nature, helped it out a bit. I just loosened some membrane/shell and that seemed to invigorate it. And then, right there in my hand, the chick stretched, uncurled, unfolded, and opened its eyes. In my hand, people! The chick hatched out in my hand! It was amazing. And totally embryonic looking and half dead looking and all wet. I have no pictures of this moment, but I’ll always remember it. I tucked it under the white hen and off we went to the library. When we returned I looked at it again, Quicksilver pecked it, and I placed it further under white hen. So, we shall see in the morning if it’s dead, pecked at, or lively. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will fluffed up and adorable. And by the way, all of these chicks are rather stocky-clearly none are from the bantam hens.