It is with a true sense of the bittersweet that I report:
“Houston, we do not have a problem.”
Our two black copper Marans juveniles spent last night in their “big girl beds” and, more importantly, they lived to tell about it this morning (visions of Violet, our chick who met an untimely death after we had introduced her to the flock, haunted me all night). The Marans pair had spent weeks being integrated with the regular flock as they all free ranged on our lawn. However, after one disastrous session where they were pecked unmercifully in the coop, until yesterday they’ve spent their nights in the solitary and yet complete protection of the “juvie-house” (our rabbit hutch, now outdoor nursery).
Last night, as it started to get dark, I asked the boys to put the chickens away.
Being boys, (and being very literal) they put all the chickens back into the coop, including my very dear Josephine and Mrs. (Mr.) Bucket, our two juveniles.
Later in the evening, when I looked out to the coop, I realized their mistake.
“Ack!” I cried out. “You put my babies in with the big ones.”
“Relax, mom,” said my son Trevor, who has never been one to cuddle up to any chicken older than 6 weeks, “They’ll be fine.”
It is important to trust your gut in this instance. I knew the chicks were old enough, I knew that they had each other and I also knew that the coop had been checked for anything that might pose a hazard to the babes. It was time to let them be part of the flock. It was time to let them enter the group and to receive a few pecks or two so that all could determine their place in their new family.
But it was still hard.
As mama hens, do we ever stop worrying about our chicks when they leave the nest? Do we ever really fall into a deep sleep before we hear the front door close after they’ve come home at night?
Worrying is what we do, and as mama hens, boy, do we do it well.
And when, in the morning light, we see happy and healthy chicks, how relieved we are to realize that our worst fears did not come to pass.
Photo by Wendy E.N. Thomas
Wendy E.N. Thomas writes about lessons learned living with children and chickens in New Hampshire. You can follow Wendy's family's stories at her blog: Lessons Learned From the Flock.