Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Broody Hen's Broody Twin

Yes, that's right, an identical sister, except for blonde nails on her center toes. Well that and she's about a year younger, quieter and has been people shy since she was a chick. Hatched by Little Black Broody Hen herself, her twin is already showing the inherent bantam broodiness just two months after coming of age. For the past two days, she's been setting on her chosen nest at night and taking only one very short leisure during morning feed out before quietly clucking her way back to her nest. Less hurried than Broody hen, maintaining the same calm social stance instead of becoming distant and fleeting from the flock. She will displace only one hen's laying spot. I gave her my normal 2-3 day trial of commitment period while I collected suitable eggs. Then, with fingers crossed and much needed babying and attention for a distant and avoiding hen, hopefully she will transition into motherhood flawlessly and personable.

As for Lil Black Hen's latest hatch, a flop.

An egg exploded on her clutch early on, smothering eggs, spreading bacteria and death. This was a new endeavor with her in the Aframe while broody. She would sneak out in the quiet morning for her stretch before I was awake; Therefore I did not get a daily glace for cleanliness of her nest. Although a breath stopping stench clued me in. I changed and added new bedding, along with some fresh thyme and chocolate mint to freshen the air.

Late on the day of hatch, I looked over an unbroken egg in my hand. I feared for the chick inside, dark, cramped and seemingly alone, waiting to feel the heat retention of dry feathers. I clucked to the egg and pressed it to my ear. I thought maybe a single mercy crack would help. I found a small suitable stick, rethinking my actions at every moment: 'what if I hurt the chick?', too concerned for it's livelihood I give it a quick tap. The pressurized sound of that egg POP, immediately followed by the milky green ooze now covering my hands and splattered on my face were enough to make me nauseous. Obviously a learning experience I power-walked to the house, mouth tight in fear of tasting this vile sludge. Five hand-washes later and I could still smell the wrenching wreak of death. Either way, half of the clutch rotted into vile, verdant, liquid, pressurized bomb shells. The horror.

The next morning I opened the back of the Aframe to find a still damp chick, cast behind her, cold and limp. “What happened?” I exclaimed in a soft yet high pitched voice. Broody hen with sadness in her eyes looked back between me and the chick and gave a low growl. The next day another lifeless body. Three of the ten survived, my livelihood numbers are plummeting!

Currently thriving at just about one month are: A white feather-legged chick with black splashing, a quick growing all white and a red. The red's baby feathers are similar to nine roos I adopted just a few days after LBHen's hatch, seeminly RIRs. She however, would not take to this rambunctious crew of at least a week older, already scurrying, play-fighting, and tugging at her eyes and comb while her chicks stood as a new foal. She has already set them a place on the pecking order, right at the tip of her beak.

Today I stroked the very top of Broody Twin's head (if I choose better names I will only be saddened further by loss) and placed six good sized eggs under her alongside one of her own. I'll keep the clutch small in case this ends in forgetfullness.  Good luck and good ridden because her eggs are too small to sell, silly bantams.

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