On Monday, the first bantam chick of the year hatched overnight. The day after, there was another. Then Madam Min grew bolshie and decided she’d had enough, so she booted the rest of the eggs out from under her and refused to sit on them any longer.
I was not pleased. Another day or two, and I might have had six chicks. But broody hens won’t be told…. they change character completely once they start sitting. Madam Min is normally friendly and placid, but once she decided it was time to rear a brood, she growled and pecked at anyone who came near. For twenty-one long days, she clamped herself down in a kind of trance. A hen’s metabolism changes too: they barely eat or drink, and store up all their waste so they only need to do one huge dropping a day. But I suppose it is worth it. It certainly is for me:
The rest of the flock were out enjoying the sunshine. I only let them out if I’m working nearby, because fox attack in broad daylight is now distressingly common. In fact, for that reason, there’s been something of a change of cast since my last post about bantams, and a lot of my old friends ended up feeding fox cubs. It’s a constant battle…
Madam Min is married to Chairman Mao, who is Pekinese, and almost triangular:
He looks very splendid, but it’s all feather and no stuffing – inside, he’s not much bigger than a pigeon, as I keep telling him when he muscles around and crows at 4am. Plus, he’s a coward and runs away if my wellie boot shows any sign of fighting back when he attacks it.
Newly mown grass is an all-you-can-eat buffet for bantams. They follow the mower the way seagulls follow the plough. Once Madam Min’s maternity leave is over, she’ll be let out to join the rest.
They are all so pretty, like flowers, and the babies are adorable. But mostly I like the names and I hope you will report about what you christen the chicks. Too bad you didn’t have another setting hen to slip the rejected eggs beneath and really Kininvie I wonder you didn’t improvise with a heat mat or hot water bottles or your pockets or something, they were so close! (You aren’t feeding them boilded eggs in that first image right?)
Alas, the eggs were cold by the time I got to them – she threw them out in the middle of the night. The chicks get boiled egg for two days, and then graduate to ground-up pellets. Yes, it’s probably cannibalism. No, I don’t feel bad about it – and nor do the chicks.
No wonder you couldn’t save them… As to cannibalism, chickens are completely down with that anyway as I know from bleak experience, so okay. You take excellent care of them it seems to me, never mind Alberto’s remarks.
I will suggest Yangtze (yellow or not) and Tofu.
I suspect one of them might be called Fluffy in memory of a cat I once knew that died an untimely death.
My goodness that is the saddest thing I’ve heard in a long time Kininvie. But I do agree that Fluffy is an excellent name–and using it for a chick might help assuage your guilt.
Really this morning I was pondering about a ‘huge drop a day’ or maybe ‘a week’, it would be very easy to schedule and manage. But I guess the deal would involve feathers and combs and wings and it would turn the whole thing into something very uncomfortable to me.
Anyway I love your chicks and hens, they look so funny and with those names… I hope the two petits fils de Madam will have the chance to grow up healthy with the crumbles of their boiled unborn brothers and sisters, instead of becoming the breakfast of some fox… It’s a cruel World, huh?
Alberto; there are fertilised eggs, and then there are unfertilised eggs. It’s true it’s hard to tell the difference when they’ve just been laid, but let’s hope for the best, eh, and not go all macabre. You’ll put me off my breakfast.
Lovely new additions to your family, shame it couldn’t be more, wonder what you’ll call the youngsters, will you be carrying on the chinese theme? Chairman Mao would have ended up in the pot if he woke me at that time, 5.30 is soon enough!
I’ll wait to see whether they are true Pekinese or a Eurasian hybrid before picking names. I could keep the chairman shut up in the darkness to stop him crowing – but it’s a shame to stop him enjoying the long daylight – and there’s no one else near enough to complain. I just go back to sleep.