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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Moxie and Chicks at 2 Weeks

Oh, is it a challenge to get any photo of the chicks! They run and move so fast and meanwhile their mother is trying to lead them out of the coop!In another week I will let them outside again. The first time was equal parts success and disaster as the blond chick shoved herself through the chicken wire but everyone ate plenty of bugs and had fun. It is wonderful to see the mothering that goes on. Moxie really knows what she is doing. She'll scratch an area for her chicks, back up, and let them find things to eat. She catches a beetle, lets out a certain sound, they run to her, and she puts it down for them to practice catching. The fastest chick grabs it and runs. Peeping. As in "I have it...come and get me if you can." This is what my mom and dad used to call the Broccoli Races with our chicks raised indoors when I was a kid. Now it is the beetle races. Amazing. I read somewhere that Jane Goodall spent much time observing chickens as a small child. I can say that if I did not have other responsibilities I would be down there watching most of the day. Even when we raised chicks inside I'd get a stiff neck from watching them! Now there is so much more to learn. People think chickens are stupid. How you measure intelligence? Is instinct part of intelligence? If you don't know how to look, refuse to look at all, or look with preconceived ideas, you will not see what is to be seen. You can not even ask the right questions to see what might be studied! I grew up on a small farm and have seen lots of births, deaths, miracles and such. But I have learned more about mothering and chickens this summer than I would have imagined. And I have more questions. Why did Moxie disappear after the coyote attack? Where was she for those 8 days? How did she find her way home and run to me when I called her? Why did she begin to sit/go broody without a clutch of eggs? Did she lay them somewhere else? How did she "know" how to incubate, hatch and raise the chicks when she came from a hatchery and was raised in my house? Why is Moxie, the biggest pig of all my chickens, willing to shift to feeding the babies instead of gobbling everything for herself? How do chicks hatch, dry off, and start running? When I was a kid and even now one of my favorite books was The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. Before Sam would go to bed every night he would muse about something in the natural world in his journal. He would ask questions. I think we would all be better off as human beings if we stayed curious and humble this way. There is so much we can learn about ourselves by paying attention, watching and asking questions.
 
 
 
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Moxie

Today I had to solve a water problem so I ended up just letting Moxie and the babies have the run of the coop. And the babies are really running!I was trying to provide the chicks water in the nest and Moxie kept trampling it. Now they are all drinking from the same large waterer. I put the chick starter in a real container, too. When I let the wyandotte in all was well. Moxie uttered a growl of sorts and that was that. In this picture Moxie is thinking the camera is a tool of the devil. The babies are all tucked under her wings.


 
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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Baby Chicks Hatched at Home

Yesterday I put out some water in a can lid. I dipped each baby beak and they started drinking. Especially Chicory who hatched first and had likely exhausted her yolk supply first. I am always amazed by this ability to recognize water and drink at a day old.

This morning I woke them all up to put our other adult hen in the outside run for the day. I don't quite trust her. I also brought Moxie some of her favorite foods. She would always be first to grab treats like grapes and leftover Annie's Mac and cheese. I offered them today. She made a special sound, took one noodle, put it down in front of her and called her chicks. I panicked - chicks I have raised have always been inside at this age getting nothing but chick starter for weeks. I took the food away. I need to do some research on how to feed Moxie while the chicks are small.

Moxie is doing a great job mothering. Watching her mother these babies makes me sad for all the chicks we raised with a heat lamp. She talks to them all the time and they are snuggled in her feathers for naps. People think chickens are stupid and maybe they are in some ways.  But Moxie is one of the most interesting, smart, adaptive, surprising creatures I have ever cared for and she has a distinct and wonderful personality. The other hen not so much.

I swore I'd never name another chicken.  Over the years we have lost chickens and cried for them. But I have named these fluff balls. The black "twins" that I can not tell apart are Jo and Pie, Chicory is the first hatched and Aster is the multicolored chick who hatched last. More to come!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More Pictures of Moxie's Babies

 
 
Chicory (my other leg is being used to struggle)
 
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Chick # 2 Hatching


2.5 Chicks!

Ran out to the feed store and got chick starter because Chicory (first hatched) is already trying to eat!  Chick 2 needed a little help but hatched a hour ago looking like a little, black dinosaur. Chick 3 is trying to hatch now.  That leaves4 more eggs, 3 of which Moxie has rolled to the side.  At this point I am sure she "knows" what she is doing and has good reason for rolling them. I held up her water and she drank and drank.


Moxie Did It!

 
 
 
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Moxie's Eggs Are Toasty Warm

One day last week I checked on Moxie and three of the eggs were on the floor. There was a pecked one that I threw into the woods. The other two had been partly eaten, likely by the other hen, but definitely showed signs of having developed! I'll spare you my exact observations. So Moxie has seven eggs left. I count today as day #18 and hatching, if all goes well, would happen at 21 days.
 
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