6 October 2005: My gravestone may very well read "She never did get caught up . . . ." But, in an effor to do just that, here we are - back where I left off at the beginning of October.
For a good while this fall I had "lost" one of the hens from my March Taj MaCoop hatch. One night I went searching and found her tucked waayyy underneath the building that the pub is in. There was no way anyone could reach her. I wondered if she was sick but decided to leave her alone. I checked on her for a couple of days in a row, but she didn't move. Finally (duh!), it dawned on me: she was sitting on a clutch of eggs! That, in itself, was a bit of a miracle because she was only 7 months old, and pullets generally don't even become mature enough to lay eggs until 6 months of age or so. And, here she was, trying to be a mama!
So, on the 6th of October I was out doing chores in the front yard when I heard this incredibly loud peeping. I thought I must have been hearing things and went about my work. Then, it started again, louder and even more insistent. So, I walked towards the back yard, and there, in the middle of the full-grown chickens pecking the ground and paying it no mind, was the tiniest black chick you ever saw in your life - squawking its head off! And, mind you, it was a cool day! I picked him up and found a small hole on the side of the building Mama was underneath. I shoved the chick through and listened as it chirped, still in distress. Then, Mama started clucking. Baby cheep-cheeped back to her, and pretty soon you heard the sounds become muffled and satisfied as Baby found its cozy spot back under Mama. So, at her young age, Mama had been successful! I wondered if time would bring any more chicks?
When I got back from a run into town that afternoon, sure enough, Mama was sitting out in the sun with her wings all puffed out. And, underneath them? Six healthy little chicks - 5 yellow and 1 black! I caught her and her chicks and put them in the nearest handy thing I had - a parakeet cage (see picture) - while I readied the brooder. But, once I put her and her brood in there, she was NOT a happy camper, and I was worried she would do the babes harm, so I let them out to their own. Over the next day or two, though, two of the yellow chicks were lost to predators, so I decided it was time to take over. With no small amount of difficulty, Tom and I caught the remaining four chicks, and they have been living and growing in the brooder ever since. And, Mama has gone back to her independent ways.