The Wee Orphans

The chicks that Big Black Hen left behind are thriving.. they are oblivious to their biological mothers demise or at least it seems so. I say biological mother, but she could be one of approximately 7 others that could claim that title. I will say, for the sake of argument (from whom you might say ?? .. lol) .. the other mothers, hehe.. that she was the hen that sat diligently on those eggs until hatching time.. so she earnt the right to be called their Mama.

The Araucana babies.. love the hand. The hand feeds them, waters them.. and also removes the poopy litter (not they have a real care about that) .. they’re main concern is where the next feed is coming from.

In the morning, every couple of days I pull out from the ground a fresh clump of grass that I ‘plant’ in the corner of there little house.. they’re cheeps of ‘freaked outed-ness’ was hilariously funny, the first time I did this.. as I hide the roots in the corner of their abode. It was however only temporary as their inquisitive nature over came their initial shock horror.

The little creatures are growing up.. their wing feathers are forming. It will only be another week of living inside with us & then they will require new living arrangements.. out under the verandah, where they will grow into teenagers of the fowl world. Once fully feathered, they will be introduced back into the big chooken pen from whence they were born.. but that is another story.

The Orphanage

This is the chicks home.. they will be here for another week. They will then move outside under the veranda into a 4 x 4 wooden apple bin. They will still have the ceramic heat lamp, 150 watts, until they’re fully feathered. Of course if we get more of those 40 degree days, the lamp won’t be necessary.. but right now, as I fight myself to not be lighting the fire & I might add that we are in the middle of Summer here in Aus, it’s January for goodness sakes.. those hot days seem far, far away!

They love the hand.. the hand does everything for them. It brings food ...

The hand is their lifeline, stand in mother.. it brings food & water.. it appears suddenly from nowhere, but only after a whistle has been heard. I whistle to them, I cannot replicate a hen of course, but they know when they hear my whistle that food is soon to appear. It must appear to them as though it falls from above.. The Chicken Little story comes to mind right about this time…

From past experience with raising chicks.. they do remember this whistle long after they have joined the backyard flock. I have had some jump onto my shoulders years later … they do remember who I am.

They fight for position on 'the hand'.

Checkout the developing wing feathers.. the cute little beasties won’t be babies for long.  … and I reckon that Lavender chick, standing up high on the hand will be a male.

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R.I.P Big Black Hen

I had been late to harvest my garlic this year, I was actually late getting it into the garden bed also, so I didn’t think it would mind an extra few weeks in the ground. As it turns out, the recently dug up garlic bed became functional for another use. I dug deeper into the bed base and made the final resting place for one of my favorite hens.. a large, black Araucana. Very sad!
Sprinkling some lime around the hole I had dug, I gently put her in position. I covered her in a thicker layer of lime before adding the dirt, as this will deter those foxes from digging her up, as well as help with breaking her decompsing body down quicker.

Big black hens final resting place, in the garlic patch, by the lemon balm

This situation made even sadder for the fact that in her death, she orphaned 6 babies, these chicks being only 24 hours old. Another sad fact is that this was the beginning of motherhood for her. After sitting diligently for 21 days on her eggs, she won’t get to raise them now.

Orphaned babies checking out their new abode, seemingly oblivious they'd just lost their mama

It makes it all the more harder to handle when it was our fault that this had occurred, it was that one time we’d forgotten to shut the door behind them, but that is all it takes for that orange predator to strike. They cannot be blamed I suppose, they have mouths to feed including their own.. but there are so many wild rabbits around. Take a couple of those & leave my chooks alone!
Ironicly though, they never actually managed to escape with my hen, the fox had been discovered.. I wish it had have been sooner. However, the beasts discovery was early enough to protect the rest of my vulnerable flock, for this I am thankful.

My big black hen was lying motionless on the floor of the pen, her babies cheeping their beaks off from their hiding places. One by one we discover them by  torch light & holding 3 together, wrapped in our pajama’s..  they’re tucked up as though I’d just been picking plums or peacherine’s without a basket.
I mentaly work out where all the brooder gear is, it needs dusting off  &  it will be set up in the dining room..  to house these cute little cottonballs on legs.

As it was 1.30am, I put mama hen in a safe place for tomorrows burial.. in the garlic patch.
I wanted to cry, I was mad.