Thursday, May 30, 2013

You hear that?

During my morning barn chores and milking routine this past Tuesday, as I was squirting away in the milk pail, I thought I heard the faint sound of peeping.  I stopped milking in order to hear more clearly.  But as soon as I strained an ear, a rooster was insistent on crowing or Pickles decided to yell or the dogs barked or some other noisy homestead thing happened.

So I finished milking and was about to go inside when I know I heard peeping.  I put my milk container on the fence post (bad idea, but luckily the milk stayed put) and followed the sounds of soft peeping.  Then I heard the tell-tale sound of a mother hen; that muffled, soft cluuk, cluuuk, clucking.

And lo & behold, there WERE chicks!

I knew that there was one particular hen that would go off in the giant wood pile to lay her eggs.  I would catch her coming out near the pile, doing that "Look at me, I just laid an egg!" cackle.  But I could never find her pile of eggs.  I just wrote it off as lost protein and one fewer egg sandwiches for us each day.  Then I just forgot about her.  Don't peg me as a bad chicken mommy, I've got like thirty-something chickens, most of which look exactly the same.

We tried corralling the hen and her six chicks so I could put them in the safety of the barn, but mother chicken was going to have nothing to do with that.  At one point I was able to catch one of the chicks.  I put it in the barn, hoping that it's incessant peeping would lure the mother closer to my net, but she was having nothing to do with that.  So I ended up taking the chick in the house overnight so it didn't get chilled (and listened to peep, peep, peep, PEEP-PEEP all night, thank you).  The next morning we tried to catch the hen and chicks again, and again with no luck.

Not wanting the mother hen to forget her other stolen offspring, I took it back outside, found where they were and put it down as close to them as possible.  The chick went running over to mom & mom welcomed it back.
Closest I can get to them before they high-tail it outt'a there.
They have survived at least two nights now, although I'm not exactly sure where they're hunkering down for the evenings.  Either back in the wood pile or under the tarps & between the large round hay bales.  I'd like to think that they'll make it on their own, but I've had three hens with "wild" chicks (meaning they weren't locked up at night) and only one chick has survived.  I'm hoping to be able to somehow get the hen captured and put in the dog kennel outside.  That way she won't be able to get out, but her chicks can get in.  Then I'll put everyone in a nice, secure pen until they are big enough to roam and know to go back in the coop at night.

That's my plan, anyhow.


  1. Carolyn,

    I hope your plan works, good luck!

  2. I'm so jealous. I had that one hen sitting on 14 eggs, and didn't get a single chick out of it. The other hens broke a few eggs over them and none of them hatched. Next time I'm isolating the broody in the brooder. Hope you manage to corral the little buggers.

  3. I hope you can get them corraled! I have had a couple hens go broody this year but, so far, no chicks. Today, hubby bought me four new Buff babies at the feed store! :)

  4. Every time once begins to think they are "in charge" of what is going on in the barnyard something like this happens. The animals never know that what you are trying to do is for their own good.

  5. I hope you get them all in. Maybe you can get the mama to go into the pen by tempting her with treats or something. Good luck!

  6. There is nothing more ornery than a mother hen. They have a mind of their own, such as it is. If you can locate them, you can sneak up on her when it's dark and save them from themselves!

  7. We had that happen with one hen last year. She lost all of her chicks. I sure hope you can catch them!

  8. Yeah hope you can get them before something else gets them.P.S.I'm trying like crazy to get caught up with everyone lol.