End of June, 2012: Man, that one chick is sure getting’ big…
So Mama and her chicks are doing great, it’s been a couple of weeks and they are growing so fast! But one of them is getting a lot bigger than the other one. I chalk it up to the fact that the smaller one had a rough start as she’s the one that was attacked by the mean hen. Here’s a couple of pics of when we really started to notice the size difference.
A couple more weeks pass and the one chick is a LOT bigger than the other one, and a bit lighter in color. Hmmm…no biggie, right?
Relaxing one evening perusing my new hatchery catalog, girls scratching away in the backyard—yes, this time I am staying with them, lesson learned—and I come across the Barred Rock listing. “Oh, that’s the type I brought home for Broody,” I think to myself as I start reading all about Barred Rock chicks. You see, Broody is a Cuckoo Maran and I bought Barred Rocks since their coloring is very similar. Back to reading the catalog: “…popular dual purpose breed…very friendly…high egg production…cockerels are lighter in color than pullets…docile personality…”—WAIT A MINUTE—what was that about cockerels? Lighter in color than pullets?? Great…you know what this probably means. Of course, at this point I’m still holding out hope that the chick is just growing faster and happens to be lighter in color than “her” sister.
Fast forward to around mid-August, the chicks are about eight weeks old. I’m doing my morning routine, about to let the girls out of the coop when I hear this faint, strange noise coming from inside the coop.I think one of the girls is coughing, it’s a strange noise so I pause to listen. I hear it again, kind of like “err-errrr.” “Is one of the hens clearing her throat? What is that?” Pause again…”err-errrr.” It finally sinks in: my little cockerel is practicing his newly-discovered morning wake-up call. Holy schneikes, here we go. I’ve got a roo.
Really??? So on the heels of the mite/lice problem we figured out that one of our hens was uber-broody (she wouldn’t budge from the nesting box, as noted in the mite post). What else could go wrong with our little hen family? Ugh. We let it go on for two months, mainly cuz we had no idea what was up with her until about one month into it. Once we figured it out, we began the process of trying to break her but to no avail. We constantly kicked her out of the nesting box, taking the eggs with us. We banned her from the coop. We kept her in a wire cage (terrible!) for a few days but this girl was DEE-TER-MINED. We finally gave up and went to our local feed store totally exasperated with this whole “raising chickens thing” (AGAIN) and sought advice. Little did the clerk know I had already determined what we needed to do but was secretly hoping for another alternative. Oh, sure, it exists but it involves chopping the hen’s head off. Not an option. What was the dreaded alternative, you ask? Buying a very young chick (or two) and stuffing it under Broody McBrooderton at night after she was asleep. In the morning when she awoke, she would think Chicken Santa had been there making her broody dreams come true. Of course, there was a chance she would reject the chicks (i.e., kill and dismember one of them or both) but what choice did we have? I left the feed store with a cardboard box, two peeping four-day old chicks (Barred Plymouth Rocks, I’ll explain) inside, after being assured that the odds of one of them being a rooster was only 5-10%. Remember this…
Why Barred Plymouth Rocks? Mama is a Cuckoo Maran, feed store didn’t have Cuckoo Marans, so they suggested I go with a breed that had similar colors, voila – Barred Plymouth Rocks.
The first day or two after Chick Christmas was a little stressful. Mama was a bit unsure of what was going on and another hen attacked one of the chicks. No, I’m not making this up but I do wish I was. This led to an entire drama of segregating the coop to separate mama and chicks from the rest of the flock, as well as the little chick limping around for a few days. Then it involved separating the chicken run. I admit I’m really questioning at this point whether this is worth all the trouble. I can buy eggs at the Sunday farmers’ market for $4.50 a dozen.
Here are some pics of how I segregated the coop and run, as well as one of the chicks upon their arrival at their new home:
Coop and run segregation complete, relief settles in, mama is doing great with her brood. I have two days of peace then one of the other hens is attacked by a hawk. Really, Universe?? Those $4.50 Sunday Special eggs are looking even better at this point. See “Hawk Attack!” post for more chicken drama!