We have officially had a chick explosion here at ImaginAcres. Just two weeks after we hatched nine chicks in our incubator, Little Carl’s chicks came into the world.
I had counted out 21 days from when LC started sitting on her eggs, and when that hatch day came, nothing happened. I figured maybe they’d be a day late, but nothing the next day either. I checked every day hoping I would see some babies and when it came to five days late, I figured something had gone horribly wrong and they weren’t going to make it. Since I had a lot to do that particular day, I figured I’d take care of the eggs the next day and try to break Little Carl of her broodiness.
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The next day I went out to dispose of the eggs and heard a soft *cheep cheep* coming from under Little Carl. I wondered if it was my imagination, if maybe the day had finally come when I’d lost my mind and would forever more hear phantom chicken sounds wherever I went. I lifted Little Carl very gently from her nest and sure enough, there was a tiny little chick peeping away! I picked up the tiny baby and cuddled with her for a minute before giving her back to the very disgruntled Mother Hen. As you can guess, she didn’t appreciate this very much. She glared at me and made the most angry chicken sounds I’ve ever heard. Little Carl and I are only friends when I have food in my hand.
Over the course of the next few days Little Carl hatched out three more chicks. After several nights of recurring nightmares that one of her babies would fall the two feet from the nesting box to the floor and she would have to decide whether to take care of her stranded baby or continue to sit on her still hatching eggs, I thought it best to move the whole lot to the floor and give them a private enclosure. This way they could be safe and I could sleep at night. Oh, the weird things you have nightmares about when you’re a farmer.
I let the flock out to free range yesterday and thought I’d ask Little Carl if she wanted to join them. I opened the door to the coop and was suddenly overwhelmed by a flurry of feathers. Little Carl absolutely bolted out of the coop, took a running leap and flew into the middle of the yard, all while yelling as loudly as she could. We’ve got Moms gone wild here, folks. She dashed back up to the coop, took another running jump and did it all over again, free as bird indeed. Her poor chicks stood there in stunned silence. They’d never lived a second of their lives without their bossy Mother around and they didn’t know what on Earth had just happened.
All at once they started FREAKING OUT, cheeping like crazy and running in circles like this was surely the end of the world and everyone was going to die. Little Carl came running back to them, suddenly remembering that she has responsibilities in this world other than leaping and flying throughout the yard.
Other than that little hiccup, Little Carl has been a very good Mom. She took the babies out of the coop for the first time today. She taught them all the most important things about being a chicken: plucking freshly planted seedlings out of the soil, scratching at the dirt in search of goodies, eating everything in sight, and pooping on everything in sight.
She finds little chick sized tid-bits in the soil and sets them down then makes an adorable little sound indicating that they’d better eat what she just found for them and not complain, because there are starving chicks in China.
The babes never ventured far from their mother, and she did a great job of protecting them from the rest of the flock. Every time another bird would come over to investigate she would make a horrible screeching sound and give a warning peck to back off. I thought it a bit harsh at first, but then figured if I was a new Mom and other women came over to my babies with the intent of pecking them to death and then eating them, I’d probably freak out about it too.
All of that romping and playing is enough to make anyone sleepy. When they’d had their fill of the great outdoors, the little darlings returned to the coop and took a good long nap under their Mother’s wing.