Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Baby Sister (left) and her son, Junior (right).
From left to right, in the nests, Baby Sister and Junior, Mrs Peckins, the Four Girls - only one has a name, Peepy Peeperton. She is the little white head just visible in the foreground. You can see that while she is white, she has a tan cast to her feathers. That means she is genetically Mrs. Peckins' daughter.
The Weird Sisters.
Baby Sister is the best hen mother. She hatched Peepy Peeperton and Junior this summer in two different settings. Junior is clearly one of Mrs. Peckins' eggs, and I think he is a rooster. (If Mrs. Peckins had hatched him, he would already be on his own!) Even though he as big as his mother, he still makes baby peeping noises, so Baby Sister continues to look after him. I think those baby peepings translate into human phrases like "Where's my college rent money, Mom?" or "You still need to pay my car insurance while I'm in college, Mom."
Last week, I opened the nest lid to count heads, and poor Baby Sister had her little wing stretched entirely out trying to cover Junior. In her defense, Baby Sister has endured much motherly trauma.
Unfortunately, I took all the eggs but one from her nest and put them under Mrs Peckins when they started hatching. When I checked on that last egg, a tiny little chick had only half hatched and was dried into the shell. That chick smelled HORRIBLE but she was so alert and conscious. When I was trying to determine how to best get her out of the stinky shell, her bright little eyes were fixed on me. I know it sounds silly, but that tiny little chick was conscious and present the way the other peeps were not. I soaked her and the shell in warm water and peeled it away without harming her or her fluff. I also washed her with soap and water because of the enormous smell. After she dried I returned her with all the peeps under Mrs Peckins instead of Baby Sister. I thought a single chick would be better off with a nest full of peeps, so that is why I put her with Mrs Peckins. She was so tiny it was easy to recognize her among all the other chicks. She was always losing the others and peeping loudly for them, so I began calling her Peepy Peeperton.
Later in the summer, Baby Sister hatched two more chicks, both of them brown. One hatched on Saturday and the other on Sunday. They were so cute, and Baby Sister was a ferocious mother. Despite her best efforts, one of the chicks disappeared when it was about three weeks old. The remaining chick (Junior) plaintively peeped for his sister for a couple of days. It was very sad. Due to so much loss and trauma, Baby Sister still tries to protect Junior as if he is a peep - that and he still makes baby peepings so his mother has not noticed how big he is, apparently.
Now, the Weird Sisters are a hoot! They are very high strung and go flying off in a big flurry at the slightest disturbance. When I call the chickens, those three goofy girls come flying and hopping as fast as they can. They are always together in a little gang of three. Even though they are so excitable, they are also the most curious. If I am outside doing something, they are the first to come around, craning their necks and observing everything with their big black eyes. They will also eat from my hand. Their feathers are smooth and their little bodies are very round and fleshy. They are very different in temperament than the D'Uccles. And, of course, no one is a sweet as Mrs. Peckins, the tiny Partridge Cochin hen.
I had no idea how much fun it would be to raise chickens. I should have guessed that they would each have their own personality. I knew I would get attached to them but I never suspected the depth of that attachment. I guess when you know'em from the time they were peeps....