Just as equally as I thank Mother Nature for allowing me to witness Parenting In The Wild at its best, so do I struggle with her lesson that Only The Strong Survive.
While 'Black Duck with White Bib' was easily visible tonight when I returned home from work to do chores (I still have NO idea where she was this morning), I drew up absolutely short when I stepped into the chicken house to check on my broody mama and her babes.
From the door, I could easily see that she wasn't on her nest. What the . . . ?! As I drew closer, I saw that all the eggs were still there . . . a HUGE batch of them: nearly enough to completely rebuild my flock. With trepidation, I took my glove off and reached out a hand. The eggs were cold. Stone cold.
A sound pulled my eyes down . . . and there was Mama, huddled in a corner, protecting her single live chick. I scooped her up and then grabbed Baby, stuffing them both back into the nest. Then, just as s/he must have done earlier today, Baby walked right to the edge of the nest box, hopped up on the Plywood "railing" . . . and fell 3 feet down to the floor.
Ahhh, I get it. Even though Mama was trying - HAD been trying for the last few weeks - to bring over a dozen babies into the world . . . when she saw the single live chick inadvertently "fly the coop" down to the scary, big world of the floor, she went after him. Unfortunately, it was at the expense of the rest of the chicks-to-be. :(
And, all my hopes of lots of cheeping, peeping babies fell along with little Mister / Miss Adventuresome.
I know it's desperate and not at all a possibility, but I still have that shred of hope . . . . So, I took all the ice cold eggs along with Mama and Baby and safely installed them in the little brooder (tiny coop). When I left them, she was tucking as many of the eggs as would fit back underneath her.
So sad. But, this, too, is Life on the Farm. Take it or leave it. As the saying goes, "If you keep livestock, you'll also have dead stock."