Monday, November 17, 2008

Chickens Are Great (and Confusing)!

Some stories and tips! It seems like only yesterday that new mother hen Meng (above, named after my favorite tsokolate joint) was a chick. Now she has seven little chickies of her own! I woke up to the little twitting sounds last week. I checked in the kaing and true enough, there were heads sticking out! We moved the kaing to the empty aviary (birds set free) so that the little ones will not be eaten by cats (or the dog, more of that later).

It is actually a bit of a confusing story here. Before this "wave" of chicks, Puti's eggs had exploded, and I moved Uldarica's eggs into her nest, on dried neem leaves to combat further infection of eggs. I thought they were Puti's eggs that she laid in a different place (our barrel of mucuna beans).

Turns out, Uldarica had already started laying some of her own! I stopped transferring them to Puti's nest, and after a few days, she promptly began sitting on the beans.

And so we had two batches of eggs hatch, both Uldarica's, at almost the same time (few days difference). Puti (the white one) thought they were her own chicks, but she was actually an adoptive mama to two. These were the two mamas with two chicks each:

Both the chicks in the last photo above are dead. Only very recently, after they had grown to about 5-6 inches long already, one was eaten by a cat, and the other, was bitten by Sarge yesterday. I heard it crying and turned around and startled the large puppy, and he laid it down. I carried it (it started flapping wildly and was still drenched in saliva) to a safe spot and later gave it to Evon for safekeeping. It eventually died, with a bone sticking out of its neck.

Sad fact of life. Well, that is why they lay so many eggs. There are so many more predators and dangers if you are small and probably tasty.

Since her two chicks have died, Uldarica has started making laying sounds again.

Anyway, as I mentioned, after hatching, we now place the chicks in our aviary so they can scratch around the ground under. After they grow larger, we put them in this movable cage that we shift around the garden, so that new area may be conquered for worms and fruit and such:

Chickens are great and are good friends for making your garden nice and healthy. They distribute wild fruit and vine all over the place. Eventually, if you don't clean up, chicken-friendly plants will start to grow. Also be sure to have a lot of places of refuge like thorny bushes that have hollow hiding spaces in the middle.

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