It’s been a challenging week with so many groups of chickens to care for. My mixed, year-old flock of egg layers have been plugging along faithfully. Most have just finished up a small spring molt and are looking much shinier, although to my continued chagrin, still beardless. Egg production is a bit down with Rosie raising chicks and two other persistent broodies sitting on empty nests. My 11-week old Basque Hens are plucky and energetic. They have just begun free ranging each morning from about 7:00 until 1:00 while the adults range in the afternoons.
The German New Hampshires are eight weeks old and finally starting to look a bit less like scruffy tweens. They live with the three-week older Basques which are basically teenaged bullies to their preteen meekliness. (I think I just made that word up.) The Basques boss and nip at them, but they live together peaceably enough. However, I think the New Hampshires enjoy the calm hours in the run while the Basques are out ranging.
Rosie and her chicks are living in a segregated part of the young birds’ run with their own small coop to nest in at night. I didn’t have another coop, so I fashioned one from a ten-dollar side table from the thrift store. I replaced the door panels with hardware cloth and window screen to block mosquitos and added a latch to lock it at night. The upper shelf holds extra food and water, and a tarp covering the run blocks the rain and sun as needed.
She has been a wonderful mother to her chicks. It has reconfirmed my faith in broodies, and I intend to let her set once a year from now on. She’s doing a great job and saving me a lot of work. It’s beautiful to watch her with her chicks.
I also have seven chicks in the house, waiting for me to finish up their little thrift store coop, larger than the one above, before moving outside sometime this week. I just dropped a dozen others off with my friend who gave me the eggs. I kept an Australorp, what I hope are six Basque Hen pullets, and my twisted-necked chick. He’s doing fine but is still quite bent.
There have been a number of trying losses and minor travesties. I had some chicks zip late, tried to help, and then had them die. I’ve had another chick die for no apparent reason and one of Rosie’s badly injured by another chicken in the flock (not Rosie’s fault – completely my own.) Each time, I learn a lesson, painful enough to remember next time. Some things are out of my hands, and some things I can do better now that I know. After last year’s easy successes, this has been a season of growing pains but there is much to be thankful for.
Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave. — Mary Tyler Moore