Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Trouble With Baby Chickens

is that some of them die. We lost two of the first three we brought home. I don't know why it surprised me. Last spring we were in San Diego at an RV park. A mother duck with a dozen little ones made the rounds everyday. By the time we had been there a week, she was down to four or five little sets of webbed feet following her around the park. I did not mind so much that her brood grew smaller. I did care that ours did.

The two chicks, one yellow and one black, are buried right outside the chicken run. I thought it would be nice for them to spend whatever eternity chickens have close to the place where they would have lived. And yes, I understand I did that for me and not really for them.

We decided, the day we found the second dead chick, to see if we could get a couple more that appealed to us as replacement flock mates for the one we have now decided to call Bruiser Woods, a Black Maran that will lay dark, chocolate brown eggs. She picked on the two little ones that died so much, ran over them to get to food, and certainly was the dominate presence in the brooder. We found two that looked hearty and were certainly large enough, we thought, to hold their own against the Bru. Two days later, everyone is still alive and thriving. We are so certain about the new kids survival that we have named them as well. Not a flower in the bunch. We have a Delaware that we named Dolly and a Buff Orpington not so cleverly named Buffy. Jenn wants a one of the reds she will call Penny and I want a Laced Wyandotte that I will call Buttercup. We have to have at least one flower name in the bunch!

It is work to keep up with their needs, especially the cleaning up of the poop and scattered food. But, they are entertaining and calming too. Jenn and I sat out in the garage late last night for an hour just watching them do chick things, like falling asleep and falling over, or practicing their scratching techniques, or just being cute babies. They are still covered in that soft down you can't help but stick your face into. The down on their wings, however, is giving way to the start of real feathers.

I love them all so much and will be a very proud "flock momma" when one of them lays her first egg!

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