Yesterday morning I discovered that the broody hen had left her nest box and taken her chicks to eat and drink for the first time. There are eight perfect chicks—seven yellow and one black. It’s a genetic mystery to me that I set two green eggs, which I thought that based upon their mothers would hatch into two black chicks, amongst a bunch of yellow Wheaten Ameraucana eggs. But one of the green eggs apparently hatched a yellow chick. It will be interesting to see how the chicks feather out and whether or not I can tell who’s who when they’re older. The yellow chicks show some color variation too. One is almost red! Very cool.
The chicks are all eating and drinking on their own. When they’re not out discovering their new world, they huddle under the hen and she keeps them warm beneath her wings. It’s pretty cute to see a hen with a bunch of tiny feet sticking out under her breast.
This broody kept her nest the cleanest of all the broodies I’ve had, and she ate every speck of the discarded shells as the chicks hatched. The eggs shells and membranes are very nutritious and she needs them to regain her strength as she ate less than a quarter cup of food for almost a month while incubating the eggs.
Chicks grow amazingly fast and knowing that I am spending as much time as I can marveling at these babies. In just a couple of days their downy fluff will be replaced with first feathers and they will be well on their way toward looking like the awkward dinosaurs from whence they descended.
But in the meantime I am loving these tiny creatures. It is easy to forget any worries or thoughts for the past and future with a tiny chick or two tucked in my hand. In that way working with the birds reminds me of what I liked so much about beekeeping, and many other farm-related tasks. The attention and focus required to handle the chicks or the bees or other animals and living things clears extraneous thoughts from my head and quiets my constant internal monologue. I am transported smack into the present moment in a way that years of yoga classes and meditation have never managed to do. This gateway to a perfectly still moment of being and a quiet, singularly focused mind is one of the greatest gifts the animals in my life have given me.