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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shared parenting

My favorite hen (if one can have a favorite) has disappeared.  I wish I had gone looking for her a couple nights ago, but she had always been pretty independent, nesting where she would, and unless she tried to nest in the goats' stall, I let her be.  Alas, I think I found her feathers today, so she's not coming back.  I knew she was gone, though, a couple of days ago, when her lone chick, a mere two weeks old, was cheeping loudly and darting here and there frantically.  She (he?) evaded me quite well, and started following the little Aracauna bantam's last chick, also a single, but almost grown up.  She had been hanging out with her Momma and the new chick, and I guess Cheep recognized her.  The chick crooned softly to her, following her around, and finally I caught the chick and herded the small hen into the middle coop.  The hen didn't seem to mind the chick, but she wasn't doing a whole lot to encourage her, either. Nevertheless, it looked hopeful, so I left them together.

Silkie Rooster sheltering chick--
you can't see her but she's there!
That night, the hen roosted on a perch, and the Silkie rooster took over.  When I looked in, Cheep was snuggled close to him, and the rooster was crooning to her.  Next morning, the little hen took over, and Cheep followed her all over the coop.  Last night when I looked in, the chick was nestled under the hen, who had forsaken her perch for a spot on the ground.  The Silkie was close by, still crooning.

Today, the little hen is starting to make little sounds to the chick.  The Silkie is still close by, still crooning.  Tomorrow, if things have progressed well, I'll let them out for the day.

I miss the little Aracauna bantam.  She was a fierce mother, even chasing off the Guinea cock--who terrorises the Rhode Island Red rooster and every other chicken on the farm.  What is interesting, though, is neither the Guinea cock, nor the bantam hen, ever tried to drive off that Silkie.  The Guinea just ignored him, and the hen--well, she hung out with him.  They must have recognized in him a great soul, chicken-wise.  He takes care of his own.

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