|Tweedle, my lost but now found hen. |
This was her secret hiding place for over a month
|The one and only Autumn baby that hatched.|
It's mother, Tweedle is one of my oldest and most determined of hens had disappeared. After an hour long search the night she went missing, and a few laps of investigation around the property in the following days I thought she was gone for good.
If a chicken doesn't show up for the evening ritual of check-in, find your spot and settle in for the night they are not coming back. Raccoon, weasels, the neighbor's cat and even just plain old little no-mercy nature can show up at anytime and demand a chicken tax. Getting attached or choosing a favorite chicken is accepting they may not be in the coop the next time I go in there. A missing bird is a little easier to process than finding them lifeless on the floor.
Gardening in the late evening I heard a chirp, a peep, convinced I wasn't going crazy I went looking for the peeping chicken. After over thirty days of not seeing Tweedle there she was. I scooped her up to hug and give her love. She did not return the gesture, she furiously attacked, bit and tried to get away from me. I didn't mind, I was so delighted to see her I ignored the attacks until I was done hugging.
She had gone broody, her hormones had kicked in and she was determined to hatch eggs. There under her was a tiny baby chick, no bigger than a small plum hatching before my eyes. It's long wet wing sticking out of a now broken shell. How adorable! Where's my camera. I found my lost chicken and *POOF* a new baby has arrived. Then the gloomy thought began to sink in, I knew the baby's chances were slim. Yet, why not let life have a shot and let Tweedle carry on doing what her raging hormones were telling her to do, even if they were risky?
As a child seeing a dead animal was a crapshoot between horribly traumatic or intensively interesting and curious. The spectrum of my reactions has softened over the years. I now understand that life has no guarantees. As my husband would say, "good thing chickens don't understand statistics" as their life contract seems to be poorly written. Unless I heavily intervene a clutch, a group of chicks chance of making it adulthood seems to be about 60%. Six out of every ten chickens get to see if they crow or make eggs.
|An example of a |
Sad? Sure, that is one feeling that bubbles up when I see a sulking bird. There have been cases I have been successful in doctoring a chick and getting it to scramble into adulthood. Extending life means a little bit more life, but once again no guarantees. I have buried plenty of doctored birds before their second birthday. Tough gig.
The little Autumn chick showed me it's Charlie Brown pose yesterday. In general the little bird seemed willing to go along with it's mother's insisted prodding, it would eat food when the hen pointed it out, and drank alongside the hen and then follow her a bit more. However, it seemed to know it's body for whatever reason wasn't progressing, it was slowing down, shutting down.
Today, I found a tiny lifeless chick in the chicken coop. The tiny body only knowing the earth for a little over a month now on a bed of hay, eyes closed, body out stretched in a peaceful rest. Tweedle still fighting off other chickens from getting too close, just as she had done for weeks. She too was tired, but not willing to give up. I scooped up the chick to find a proper place to bury the baby. Tweedle wouldn't allow me to comfort her, when the chick's body was removed she instantly left and went back to normal chicken routines of looking for food, dusting herself and such.
I couldn't comfort her even though I would have liked to. She went about her business and seemed to tell me. as she did when I found her after a month of her being missing, to go about mine. Okay, universe, give me a hint to this lesson. I don't completely understand.