Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Evil" Successfully Contributes to the Gene Pool

Yesterday morning when I went out to feed the critters, only Evil S. Rooster and Tenzing Norgay came running. I have been hearing coyotes close by even in the daylight, so I was afraid I had lost half of my adult chickens in one mean night. I went to the chicken coop and heard low hen mutterings, much to my relief. I lifted the nest roof and found Mrs. Peckins and Baby Sister sitting on the same nest of eggs. I also heard the tiny peeping of a chick! I gently lifted both hens off the nest and there was a tiny blue feathered chick with a sunny yellow cap. It was the cutest thing in the world! It was a Porcelain D'Uccle chick, a chip off the ol' Evil Rooster block!

Mrs. Peckins has always had the air of a mother about her. Her fluffy brown, black and red feathers are soft and maternal. She is the most gentle of my chickens, hence the name. And bless her heart, she has been sitting on eggs for so many weeks this year. Several weeks ago, I finally took all of the eggs out of the nest. They were all rotten and some of them exploded, to my extreme dismay! (I am just a rookie at this chicken raising endeavor, but learning fast, let me tell you!) I assumed that Evil the Rooster was not old enough to father chicks, and it was just as well since he is one mean little guy.

Thanks to the surprise chick, I got the large cage ready with a nest of hay and transferred Mrs. Peckins, most of the eggs and the tiny little peep to it. I knew her dedication. Even though the chick belonged to one of the D'Uccle hens, Mrs Peckins deserved to have this nest of eggs and any living chicks. I gently listened to each egg and found one peeping and one making a tiny little pecking. I tried to candle the rest of the eggs and removed about ten of them. Four were clearly not fertile, and six were silent but I could not tell if they were developing or not. I set them aside in a bowl and forgot them on the porch but Duke found them. If they were soon to be peeps, they met a bad end...

I left the maternity cage right outside the front door all night long. Duke slept beside it. I got up to check to make sure the little chick had not fallen out of the nest. This morning I gently lifted a growling little hen off the nest and sure enough, two more PEEPS were in it! Another little D'Uccle and the tiniest one, still a bit wet, was Mrs. Peckins' own little chick. It is not marked like a Partridge Cochin, but has a yellow head and a bronze body. It is the tiniest chick I have ever seen in my life, so I hope it is healthy. I hope it makes it.

I lifted Mrs. Peckins down by some food and water so I could hold each little chick. I also listened to the rest of the eggs. She gladly ate and drank but the plaintive peeping of her chicks disurbed her. When Duke came to investigate the possibility of eating chicken feed (crazy dog) Mrs. Peckins threaten Duke and he backed away. Tiny as they are, these chickens are brave. I will wait one more day and then remove the rest of the eggs, which Duke will love, and then I will have to figure out where to pen Mrs Peckins and her tiny brood of chicks.

I know there is nothing mysterious about chickens hatching eggs, but it seems like a miracle to me.

Aren't they the cutest little bits of living biomass you have ever seen in your life?!

Post Script: Another egg has hatched! Four and counting...

Post Post Script: I know it is an effect of the camera, but the eggs and the peep seem to have auras around them.

Post Post Post Script: Eleven chicks in all hatched out!

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