Our household has grown. Nancy is as nervous as a new mother. We have five of these: three that look (more or less) alike, and two yellow ones, one (the tiniest one) with black legs and feet. At the time this photograph was taken, I think the creature represented was about a week and a half old: old enough to have grown sufficient wing feathers to fly three or four feet, and to grow that adorable little fluff of a tail.
This particular chick is the most aggressive of the five, which makes us suspect this may be an infant rooster. I have no idea how to sex a chick. In fact, I identify adult male chickens by their tail feathers and overall demeanor. If they strut around the hen yard, crowing and now and then, I assume they are male. this little gem has his photograph in this blog because he ventured the closest to me.
Photographer’s note: even at that, I shot 59 pictures of the chicks within a fifteen minute time span, and discarded 47 of them. These little bits zip around like miniature hummingbirds.
What happened was Lorp (our Astralorp) went broody. For those not familiar with chickens, this means she began laying her eggs in out of the way places and then sitting on them. Her all around queen-of-the-hen-yard demeanor changes so radically the other hens began to pick on her and harass her (because chickens are very much like little groups of junior high students.) We have had hens go broody before, but recently we suffered a tragic loss when Large, our bigger barred rock, became ill and died, so we were down a hen anyway. So this time when a hen went broody, Nancy felt sorry for her. We have no rooster, so she could sit on her eggs as long as she needed to, but nothing was going to happen.
So Nancy went on Amazon and bought 6 fertilized eggs from a chicken farmer in Georgia. By breed, they are identified as “hen yard mix’, which means…they’re a random collection of whatever lives and reproduces in a certain hen yard in Georgia. They came in a modified egg crate wrapped in a box with a LIVE ANIMALS label on the outside. We bought 6, but received 8, just in case. In the meantime the other hens had begun laying their eggs in Lorp’s nest, so we had a plethora of eggs, some hatchable, some not.
We ended up separating Lorp and her clutch from the other hens (there are two, a Rhode Island Red and a barred rock) because hen yard bullying was going on.
We run an anti-bully coop.
So we put Lorp and her clutch in an over-sized dog crate, and Nancy waited. Two eggs broke. And then one day (right down to the day this should have happened, incidentally) some pecking occurred, and small, fuzzy chicks emerged. It took us a while to determine exactly how many we had, because they burrowed in under their mom, but in the end we had five.
I have a cute photograph of all five and mom on my phone, but my phone does nothing all day but call me about an apparently endless supply of medical supply hucksters who know I am experiencing pain somewhere, and desperately wish to send me knee braces, back braces, shoulder braces and pain cream–all to be generously paid for by Medicare. That, or there is an active warrant already issued for my arrest and I should call back immediately, or, my favorite–the warranty on my car has expired and I should call immediately to have it renewed. Or–while there is no problem with my immediate credit card–there is this wonderful offer floating out there in the ether designed for me and me alone… The battery died.
Ordinarily I don’t care, because I rarely call anyone and people rarely call me. Yesterday I needed to talk to an appliance repairman because our oven said, ‘screw you’ and locked itself and we can’t get it to unlock (why would that even be a feature on an oven?); also, my roof leaks and it’s been raining and although I no longer believe this leak is fixable, I keep calling roofing people to complain, and I hope they will call me back to sympathize. Which means I had to leave the phone on. Which means I received 37 phone calls yesterday, three of which I actually wanted. So, in a side note: as a communication tool, my phone has been rendered virtually useless. I have two solutions that sort of/kind of work: I turn off the ringer, or I turn off the phone. So 37 different people with pronounced Indian accents named “Derek” or “James’ no longer to call to commiserate with me over my pain, but then again…no one can call me.
Which is why we have chicks in the back yard. We go outside, sit in lawn chairs, and watch them dart about and dust bathe. They discover blades of grass, which they promptly bite, and every now and then Lorp sounds the alarm and all five of them come running like they were retracted by a stretched rubber band. Two of the chicks dust bathe with their mother, but they dust bathe underneath her, so while she is rolling around and fluffing her feathers in the dirt, they are struggling to get upright again and breathe real air.
They’re cute. They’re adorable. And they don’t try to sell me medical supplies.