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Motherhood

By Audrey Pavia, Urban Farm contributor

Monday, June 25, 2012

chick under hen's wing

Photo by Audrey Pavia

This little thing will be all grown up soon, and I can't wait to watch the process.

My chicks are now almost 2 weeks old, and I can’t believe how fast they have grown. A day of so after hatching, the smallest one couldn’t jump 2 inches from the outside pen of the coop to the inside. Now, they are the size of sparrows and are able to jump tall buildings in a single bound.

Well — not quite. But a couple of days ago, I caught two of them outside the coop. The only way they could have gotten out was by jumping more than a foot to the roosting pole, then jumping from there out of the open trap door on the roof of the coop, and then down to the ground.

When I first saw them out of the coop, I panicked and put them back in the coop. Their momma was not happy with the round-up, and came at me with wings outstretched and feathers puffed up. I would have left them alone, but I just couldn’t see how they could possibly jump up from the ground back to the roof of the coop.

After a couple of days of catching them and putting them back in — and upsetting momma terribly in the process — I decided to leave it alone and see what happened. They may have come out the last couple of days and then gone back in on their own, because I didn’t notice them out when I went to lock the coop up tonight.

But I did notice something else. The momma hen was sitting on the roosting pole with the other chickens, instead of on the floor of the coop, where she could usually be found with her babies. Tonight, her wings were partially extended, and on closer look, I could see her chicks were tucked neatly underneath them.

This was hands-down the cutest thing I’d ever seen. I ran and got my camera, and began snapping away as the chickens looked at me with distinctly puzzled looks on their faces.

So now that I know my chicks are old enough to come and go out of the coop, the real fun will begin. As momma hen starts taking her brood farther and farther from the safety of the coop, she will start teaching them how to be chickens. She’ll show them how to scratch in the horse stalls for fly eggs. She’ll show them how to take dust baths. She’ll teach them that when I call “chick, chick, chick!”, it means snacks are being doled out.

As the babies grow, they will start to take their place in the flock. Momma will defend them until they are nearly full-grown, keeping the other chickens from bossing them around too much. But the day will come when they will on their own, and full-fledged flock members in their own right.

At the rate they are growing, this will all happen very quickly. I can’t wait.

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About the Blogger

Audrey Pavia

Audrey Pavia
Keeping farm animals in the city can be a real hoot. Follow freelance writer Audrey Pavia's adventures in Southern California with a yard full of urban livestock, including horses, chickens, a Corgi and an urban barn cat. She somehow manages all these silly critters by herself while working full-time. And you thought "The Simple Life" was out there?

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