May 28, 2012
Chicken on grass

Photo by Audrey Pavia

Betty Jo is one of the hens sitting on a clutch of eggs in my coop.

Baby Jo and Betty Jo are sitting on a clutch they laid in the coop. They take turns, so I’m assuming the clutch has eggs laid by both hens. When the eggs hatch, it will be interesting to see who takes care of the babies. Will the moms know which chicks are theirs? This will be an interesting experiment.

I have some concerns about this situation. The good news is that the hens laid the eggs inside the coop, which means that, if they stay in there, the babies will be protected. I say “if” because when Baby Jo was newly hatched and under the tack shed, I caught her and put her in the coop, hoping her mom would go inside with her. Instead, Baby Jo, who was tiny bantam chick, slipped through the 1-inch wire mesh and got out to where her mom was waiting for her. If these babies are also that tiny, they might just slip out through the wire.

The smart thing to do would be to get some smaller wire mesh and cover the bigger wire with the smaller stuff. That way, the babies will be protected from predators. If I can get my act together, I’ll be doing this before the chicks are born.

My other concern is the gender of the babies that will be hatched. The hens are sitting on at least five eggs, that I can see. I hope beyond hope that there aren’t five roosters inside those eggs. I know there has to be at least one, and I don’t know how that’s going to work with the two roos I already have. Mr. Mabel is the king of flock. His bossy personality is the reason he’s in charge. Mr. Molly is a kind, gentle guy who rarely challenges his brother and is fairly content to just hang back. But what kind of temperament lies waiting to be hatched in those eggs? Another bossy rooster who will challenge Mr. Mabel, causing fight after fight until someone gets seriously hurt?

I fret about these issues as I eagerly await the birth of the babies, who are quickly developing in those eggs. Despite my anticipation, I also question the wisdom of allowing my flock to expand in this way, and wonder if I’ll regret it.

I do think it’s a good sign that I recently won some chick mash at a raffle at a local feed store. I put tickets in a whole bunch of bags for all kinds of horse supplies, and just one ticket in the bag for the starter mash. Despite the odds, I won the mash. Maybe this means the universe supports my decision to grow my flock? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

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