I think that Claire must have been listening in when I said I wondered how she was going to handle letting her chicks gain their independence. Or regaining her own independence, maybe?
Since making that post, I’ve been watching them, only to see that it was starting.
Yesterday afternoon, Claire walked off and left the chicks to fend for themselves most of the afternoon. They hung out near her, but she did not stop the pullets from chasing them or pecking if they wanted treats the chicks had.
The day before, she had done just that. Stepped in. Protected. Admonished.
She maintained a distance until one of them – usually Eugenie – became frightens and began crying for her in plaintive, sharp “Momma! Momma! Momma!” Then she would come walk them a while, calming her children and then subtly wandering off once again.
This mornjng when I opened the coop door, the chicks came out with a pack of the pullets, made their to the dish, and were chased away by … Everyone, basically.
Eugenie likes to eat standing in the dish. No one let her. Dani had to budge his way in line, only to be pushed out.
They took perches on the wall (picture above) and pouted, waiting for the crowd to thin and the important first wave (which included their mother) left the dish. They are no longer welcome in that group of privileged First Breakfasters.
I don’t know how long the transition will take. Claire was still sleeping with them last night. But we are definitely seeing the beginning of the end of their ‘childhood.’
Does anyone remember that movie? Just me? Okay, well, then…
Today marks Dani and Eugenie’s 5th week-aversary.
Aren’t they the sweetest family, still? Claire has truly surpassed my worries about her as a mother. She is protective, yet lets her children have the space and independence to explore and learn on their own. She teaches by showing once and then doing.
She apparently has help because some of the pullets (who still apparently think Claire is the Patron Saint of Young Chickens) have taken it upon themselves to watch over the babies. As Eugenie still likes to wander off on her own sometimes and often confuses her momma with other Rhode Island Reds, I guess this is a good thing that some of the pullets have appointed themselves to watch over and give guidance. It’s sweet of them to repay Claire’s accidental protection with intentional.
It is still very hard to get pictures of both of these chicks. Eugenie takes any attention I pay them as an attempt at picking her up and she will run for it. But I did manage to get these of the happy little family.
Already at 5 weeks, most of their baby down is gone. Eugenie is still a snowball. Dani, a warm brown with white & tan feathers mixed in.
Eugenie and Dani
Dani in motion
Rare moment where Eugenie is sitting still
A beautiful Family
Eugenie in motion
Dani and Momma
Dani. Still a boy.
I am curious about how the next few weeks will go. Dani and Eugenie, by virtue of it being summer time and not the dead of winter, have an entirely different relationship with their momma than Pip did with Abby. They wander more, explore more. There’s more to eat, do and see. They’ve already lost most of their baby fuzz and in that regard, they are ready to be free of momma. But at 5 weeks, Claire is still putting them in bed in the coop by 5pm. For all the freedom she gives them, bedtime is still very strict. I can’t tell if either of them (or both) still sleep under her. They returned to the maternity ward after their trial of the roosts. I guess they prefer the solitude of the nest there to the crowded perches. If I peek under the curtain – which I did yesterday – at least one of the chicks is sitting next to Claire, not under.
I wonder if Claire will push them away and out of the nest, return to her sisters, earlier than Abby did? It’s summer, it’s warm. They all won’t need to huddle and cuddle for body heat. Or will they just slowly drift apart over the course of the summer, as age and more independence asserts itself?
Will the babies notice so much? Or will they not care? Pip stuck close to Abby most of the winter, even to the point of sitting in the nest beside her when she began laying eggs again and “baby sitting” her egg after to make certain no one touched his potential sibling. It was hard to explain to him that momma didn’t need his help in the slightest.
It’s actually kind of hard to believe that Claire’s sweet babies are 4 weeks old, and yet, they are.
They really have integrated well with the rest of the flock.
This morning, they were up in the rooster and I was able to get decent pics of both of them. Eugenie is such a stinker and hard to get pictures of at all.
This week has seen a growth spurt in both of these chicks. Dani still looks like a little rooster with that big comb of his.
Eugenie, while still sporting little to no comb as of yet, is now grow wattles. You can see them fairly well in this picture. Comb is still tiny, though. I’m still giving ‘her’ an 80% chance of being a girl.
Dani, however, is pretty much Danny. I am loving his coloring, though.
For comparison sake, here is Pip at about the same age.
Pip had the same jowly look, but definitely a bigger comb.
… aka Lessons in How to Be a Chicken, as given by Claire to her babies.
Ever since Claire’s remaining babies have passed the 1-week mark, she has been busy teaching them about Life, and how to be chickens. The title of this post is ‘baby steps’ but in reality, its more like ‘baby leaps and bounds.’
Claire had them outdoors at Day 2, running around in the grass outside the run by the end of the first week. Pip never even left the coop until the end of Week 1. (To be fair, it was the first week of December.)
She’s taught them to scratch and forage, dirt bathe, and to go nuts whenever I come down to the coop, because there might be TREATS. It’s cute because Eugenie gets really excited and flies when she thinks there are treats.
Wednesday, she taught them to fly up on top of the wall surrounding the run. I was there to see it, and got a video of their elaborate Hide & Seek game once I realized what was going.
I happened to be sitting on the steps, observing the flock when she brought the babies with her into the run. The passed out of sight, but i could hear her bucking in her “listen up, kids, this is how you do this” voice. The Instructor Voice. Then, Claire left the run, still bucking. The babies didn’t follow, and didn’t follow, and didn’t follow. So I went to investigate why, and this is what I found:
She stood on the other side, bucking while they figured out how to jump over and over. It’s a 4 3/4 foot fence.
Yesterday, the babies put her jumping/flying/climbing lessons to good use, by mastering a rather surprising new lesson… How to Get into the Roosts.
I guess this means she’s done using my maternity suite, huh? And after only two weeks!
Ah, well… the next hen is already starting to go broody, anyway, but that’s a story for another post.
Editing this (since no one’s read it yet, how would you know?) to add… I’ve made a casual observance above that it took Pip a lot longer to make it outside into the run. He also was about 4 weeks old when he joined Abby in the roosts. BUT, perhaps the biggest difference I’ve noted between Pip and Claire’s wee ones is that the other chickens are tolerating Claire’s babies better than they did Pip.
My question is, why is this? Is it because of the difference in mothers? Is it because I created the maternity suite so Claire and the babies aren’t hogging the coop during the day? Or because it’s summer and she keeps them outdoors all the time? (Except for around 4-5pm, when she decides it’s their bedtime and puts them in bed for the night. Every day for the last 2 weeks, no joke, Kids are on a STRICT regimen!) Or is it because Pip was the first hatch any of them had experienced? They didn’t know what to expect and he was annoying, what with the constant cheep-chee-cheep peep-peep-peep all day and night.
Or is it a combination?
Whatever the reasons, Dani and Eugenie seem to have free reign to run wherever the want. They often stray from Claire’s side, or get lost in the treat-getting times when everyone is running around like mad things. I have yet to see them pecked or attacked. They even hang out in the “Club House” (a bush the older flock members like for shade) with everyone else an no one minds.
The converse, I’m pretty sure Pip is just being tolerated because Abby still likes him.