We’ve got some new chicks! Little white autumn chicks, from the white hen’s second setting. It’s late for chicks, I hope they make it.
I made another mistake to add to the bank of learning experience. Next time, put the hen in the broody box before the chicks hatch! I was keeping a close eye on her near the end, watching for signs of imminent hatching, but I didn’t put her in a box. At night I’d seen that all the birds snuggled in around her in her fixed broody position, and I figured that was nice and cozy for her. It’s getting colder at nights. I didn’t want to isolate her yet. Besides, the chicks always stay under mom for 24-48 hours before they start looking out at the world.
But the chicks hatched in the night, and they did not stay under mom for a transition period.
I checked her at night, no hatching. The next morning when I open the ramp the chickens start filing out, the white hen among them. What? Oh no. Look inside the coop- mayhem. Some older chicks and brown hen huddled in a corner, apparently completely weirded out. Three white chicks strewn around, one tumbled down the ramp to the bottom, one still on it, one dead. White hen impassively eating breakfast.
Without thinking too much about it, I crawled awkwardly into the run from the pine tree end the way I have to do on occasion, snatched up the tiny chicks and put them in the kangaroo pocket of my sweatshirt, and pulled the elastic waistband of my (full disclosure) pajamas up over the shirt and pocket, securing them in there. Then I walked all over the property for the supplies to assemble the broody box. Next mistake: have the broody box on deck when nearing the due date. It took maybe 20 minutes. The tenor of the panicked cheeping in my pocket changed pretty quickly, though, to a peaceful muttering, so I knew they were content and cozy in there. The dog could hardly walk for trying to gain more information about what was going on in the vicinity of my belly.
She did not sit on the remaining eggs again, so I cracked them, and they were just rotten eggs, never kindled. She must have known. She sat on the other eggs that had chicks, but that died before hatch, for a long time. Eggs with nearly done chicks in them are much lighter than “liquid” eggs. They must use up a fair bit of mass expending the energy of living.
The white hen seems to have a two-chick limit. This time three hatched, one dead, same as last batch. Now the Silkie flock is dominated by little brown birds, the white ones are the unique, endangered ones. Hopefully they make it. She’s in her box now, momming around.
Evening in the coop now: