Friday, September 18, 2009
I'm not sure I ever informed you all, but a few weeks ago I noticed that there was a chicken up in the hayloft, brooding. It's kind of late in the season for new chicks, but what could I do? I had no idea how long she'd been up there. Then, a few days later, I saw another one. I decided I'd better make a thorough search, and I found no fewer than THREE hens brooding in various dark and dusty corners of the hayloft. And I got fairly well covered in chicken shit and had a hay-dust induced coughing fit.
Well, hens will be hens, and I never mind a few more chickens around the place. But I knew that I'd better keep a sharp eye on them, because once they hatched, the chicks would fall off the loft and either freeze or be trampled. Or both. This evening, when I checked, I could tell by the posture of the hens, their heightened vigilance and increased hostility that if the chicks hadn't hatched yet, it would be any minute (Why yes, I do read chicken-minds. Just call me the chicken-whisperer.). I checked, and yes indeed, two of the mamas had chicks under them, with several eggs left yet.
Thus began Operation Hayloft. We all trooped out to the barn armed with pillowcases and a camera, and extracted all three hens, distributing them to various safe locations. Was it easy? No. There was much squawking and flying of feathers. But I think I can say that Operation Hayloft was a success: all three are now bedded down in their new nests.
Volunteer Rowan intrepidly risks life and limb on a wobbly ladder and valiantly braves an asthma attack in her zeal to locate and retrieve one of the mama hens.
One of the nests. The little yellow and black one is totally adorable. Hope s/he lives.