Earlier this year, my husband made it quite clear he preferred to go through the spring and summer seasons without chicks in our spare bathtub. You see, for the past few years the children and I had been succumbing to the cuteness of the new baby chicks we saw in the feed store. I would purchase at least two chicks per child, just in case one of them was killed by a predator after we put them outside. For weeks our extra bathroom was noisy, dusty, and virtually unusable while the chicks were growing.
So this year I agreed. The kids’ interest was waning, and I was extra busy. No chicks in the tub was fine with me. In fact, I would have been content not to have any chicks at all this year.
But two of our hens were setting. One hatched out eleven chicks, and they were doing well following their mom around the pen. The children kept watching the other hen, wondering when her eggs would hatch. Finally, last week they did.
Lillie, my eight-year-old, came running in the house. She had checked on the hen and saw two little heads peeking out from underneath the bird. The hen was setting in a laying box about two feet off the ground; I went out that night with a piece of wood to make a ramp so the chicks could just walk down after they had all hatched.
The next day, Lillie went out to check again.
“She’s gone!” Lillie shouted. “The’re all gone!”
We went out to investigate. The mother was indeed gone, and the gate had been closed. Had something gotten in and eaten the hen and her chicks in the night?
“Wait! Here’s a chick!” my daughter Cassie shouted.
“Here’s another!” said John.
We looked around and found two more. We took them inside and put them in a large box, far away from the dog and cats.
A little bit later, Lillie found the mother – she was fine, and had three more chicks running along behind her. Apparently she had gotten out of the pen somehow and a few of the chicks were able to follow; the rest were left behind.
We wondered what to do. They had been without their mother for a while, and I wasn’t sure they would know to follow her. Besides, we told my husband, she had abandoned them – we couldn’t just set them out again. We needed to take care of them.
And so, here we are, with more chicks in the house. They’re still in the box right now, peeping and scratching and getting bigger every day. I suppose we’ll need to move them into the bathtub in a week or so, as it’s deeper and harder to escape from. We’ll have to find somewhere else to put Luke’s turtles, though. 🙂