I leapt out of bed this morning and dashed downstairs to check on Cirrus and her chick. From the frantic high pitched cheeping I knew that it was hiding somewhere under Cirrus. Cautiously, I lifted Cirrus off the eggs to find a tiny white ball of fluff. Unsurprisingly, Cirrus was not impressed and pecked me for my trouble. Beneath her was the chick who hatched yesterday and three pipped eggs!
I kept checking on the eggs as they hatched and in quick succession, we had four chicks. The fifth egg made loud cheeping noises so I thought that it would hatch relatively quickly after the others despite the shell not being pipped. A few hours later and the cheeping in the egg was weaker so I carefully pipped the egg to try and help it. The next time I checked, there was no change so I decided to intervene. As it turned out, it was a good thing I did. The inner membrane of the egg was incredibly thick and the chick had got stuck to one patch where it had dried. Slowly, I got it out and immediately wrapped it in a bowl and put it on a hot water bottle. I kept stroking it to try and keep it breathing, nudging it and turning it to try and dry it off quickly. Once it was half dry and occasionally cheeping loudly, I slipped the chick under Cirrus and my husband removed the tiny sixth egg.
It seemed unlikely that such a small egg would have anything in it. We were completely wrong! Crammed inside was a tiny bit perfectly formed chick. Due to its size and the fact that I could see it hadn’t fully absorbed the yolk, I suspected this chick wouldn’t survive. I tried my best but within half an hour, it had died.
A bit later, I went back to check on the fifth chick. I lifted Cirrus to discover to my horror that the chick had died. Two losses in just over an hour was rather upsetting. Sometimes there is no obvious reason why a chick doesn’t make it but it doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. Cirrus and the four remaining chicks seem to be fine although the excitement of the event is somewhat lessened by the loss of the two last chicks. I know many people would brush it off as nature taking its course but I find that these events affect me more than they used to.
By now I was starting to worry about the other four chicks. Thankfully, they appear to be fine and are doing well so far. Two of the chicks are slightly yellower than the others and I wonder whether this indicates if they will be a slightly different colour? I guess only time will tell!
Down on the allotment, all the chickens were busy settling down for the evening by the time I managed to escape from work. To my horror, I discovered Leia had passed away in the nest box. She had been quiet the past couple of weeks and I had put that down to missing Flora. I thought she had perked up when I moved Flora back into the new coop. It was quite upsetting coming off loosing two chicks earlier in the day.
To distract myself, I went across to the main coop and threw out some treats. Out came Tommy with four girls (Rey, Polly, Cora and Sadie). No Alba. Dreading what I might find, I opened the Nest House and spotted Alba’s rear end sticking out of the laying box. Praying that this wasn’t another dead bird, I opened the lid of the box. A shrill squawk startled me as Alba leapt over the top of the box and dashed outside. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, I went across to the Lite Weed Destroyers and threw them some chard.
Next, I dug over the grassy section of the plot. It will need digging over again and careful removal of the grass roots but it looks better. The top bed by the shed I decided to leave for another day. Just before I left, I wandered into the greenhouse to check on the plants. Shockingly, they are all still alive and growing well! Even the chillies are showing signs of life – this is exciting as I have never had any success with them, unless you count a flawless record in killing them off? Somehow, I don’t think that counts…
The plan for tomorrow is to dig over the top section of the plot and work out where to plant the remaining potatoes. Probably they will go in the bed next to the bog garden. For good measure, I might even weed the bog garden while it’s dry!
So sad about the chicks, but Nature, in her wisdom, usually allows the strong to survive…