We are still in a chick-hatching place at applewood farm these days.
Our egg numbers have been down for about a month due to Excessive Broodiness. Six of our hens have gone broody thus far: one hatched two chicks, one hatched three, three are currently sitting on three eggs each for another week, and one had to be broken of her broodiness when none of her eggs hatched.
The mama that hatched two chicks was a good mama. I believe really that all hens are good mamas. It’s a beautiful thing to watch them protect their chicks and teach them how to be chickens. Even before their chicks hatch, every broody hen will protect her eggs in the same semi-aggressive, possessive manner.
Two-chick mama was among the casualties on Fox Lunch Day http://applewoodfarm.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/the-sacrificial-chicken/, however, and her two orphans have now struck out on their own to make their way. They are growing and thriving; their mama gave them a great start before she left.
The mama that hatched three did not end up in the belly of a fox and may be seen scooting around the farm with three little chicks zipping around at her heels. They spend their days roaming, scratching, pecking, and hiding in bushes. At night, they sleep all together in a hay-lined milk crate in one of the coops.
But the other night, their crate was empty.
All of the other hens were roosting when we went to close the coops, but the mama and her chicks were nowhere to be found.
We counted and re-counted. We looked and looked and looked. We could not find them.
Then, we started to theorize.
This is never an optimistic exercise.
“Maybe the foxes came back and got the mama and the chicks didn’t know what to do and they scattered and then the foxes got them too!?”
“Maybe a hawk got the mama and the chicks tried running after her and they got so far away that they couldn’t find their way back and now they are lost and scared and hungry?!”
And so on…
We gave up our search after awhile and decided that we’d check back in the morning and hopefully figure out what happened.
And that night, a rainstorm came. Complete with house-shaking thunder and rapid-fire lightening. And it went on for hours. In the morning, our little pond was filled back up and the world was soaked to the bone.
Dave looked out our bedroom window, smiled, and said, “There they are!”
And there they were.
In the very back corner of the back garden, the mama and her babes were scratching and pecking and just being chickens.
Like no big deal.
It reminded me of when I was a teenager and I’d come home really late, or the next day, and my mom would ask where I’d been. I’d shrug like it was no big deal, get annoyed, and say that I was fine. She, on the other hand, would be beside herself saying, “Well, I didn’t know you were fine!”
At least she didn’t have to worry about chickens.