Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lil' Peepers

I'm a chicken grandma!

Mama Buff has been sitting on about 14 eggs. How they all got in there I can only infer from something I observed a while ago: another hen joined MB in her boudoir and sat down as if to lay an egg. I bet what happened is over time the egg pile was increased hen by hen, day by day, until for some reason MB decided that she'd reached her maximum.

At the end of last week I visited MB at her post and heard her grunting rather rhythmically. That was new. I'd never heard that before. Sunday afternoon I went to check on her and saw a little chick looking back at me. It was mostly blond but had stripes. I ran to get the camera to document the joyous occasion. Zack and I got a separate pen ready immediately. I know that chicks are fully fed and hydrated for three days after they hatch, but I had no idea how long #1 had been out of the shell. We moved the doggie carrier into the new arrangement, and I proceeded to wait on Mama Buff like a the queen she is.

Wednesday I arrived home from town to see that MB was off the nest to the front of the pen. Oh! She's taking the baby for a "what to eat" lesson, I thought. No. Baby was OUTSIDE the wire, unable to figure out how to get back in. I felt the eggs while mama was off the nest--they were not warm. I have no idea how long she'd been gone. I don't know if that's a deal breaker right now. But yesterday's adventure revealed chick #2. I don't think they even come out from under her for at least a day.

I couldn't bear the thought of Mama Buff having to make the choice between her unhatched chicks and a chick in trouble. We made the decision last night to situate the brood in the garage. The little paddock is made of chick-proof wire. Lil' peepers can't go AWOL again.

This morning I discovered chick #3. It has no stripes like #s 1 and 2. That means he's all Buff Orpington. I saw him when I chanced to pass through the garage this morning. Mama was off the nest at the waterer with 1 and 2. I crouched to look inside and saw the teeniest, gangliest chick, dry, but still curled in the shell. Must have hatched early this morning. Who knows? There might be even more hatching right now. The peeping volume is going up every time I check on things. Mama Buff continues to grunt; she's saying "I'm your mother" over and over, no doubt.

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