Spoiler alert: The latest chicken story ends well. Phew!?
We thought all was well as of late yesterday afternoon. Ella and the lone chick (sniff!) were safely ensconced in the mobile coop. Daisy and Caroline weren’t thrilled (particularly Daisy), but they were hanging out near the coop. Fortunately, the three dominiques were largely ignoring everything happening in and around the mobile coop.
Around 7 o’clock, Ella decided to go to bed–early. She went up into one of the two nesting boxes in the mobile coop. There’s a ramp from the ground to the boxes, but there was no way the little chick could walk up the ramp and join her. Ella was oblivious to the fact that she had, for all intents and purposes, abandoned her chick.
So, what to do? The chick was going to die overnight if Ella didn’t shape up and take care of it. However, Ella gave no indication she was going to move from the nest box. Meanwhile, Daisy was more wound up about the chick and clearly wanted to join them inside. Furthermore, the chick had started huddling in the corner of the mobile coop closest to where Daisy and Caroline were pig piled on the other side of the wire mesh. [Awwwwww…]
What the heck. We let Daisy go inside, hoping that she would be a good hen-mom and make sure the chick wasn’t abandoned–unlike Ella. Then Caroline got frantic because her clan–after all, she, Ella, Daisy, and the two chicks had basically been a chicken family for the past week–was all inside so we let her in, too. [Three chickens to raise one chick?? Whatever.]
Instead, Daisy joined Ella in the nest box, leaving the chick with Caroline below.
However, Caroline quietly settled herself into one of the two most exposed corners of the mobile coop, on the ground–no straw, no box, nada. Pretty soon the yellow chick nestled up to her, went under her wing (albeit, with half its little body exposed), and eventually got up and moved around for a better position entirely under Caroline’s wing.
Thank you, Saint Caroline.
For the next few hours, we hoped that Caroline would stay still and the chick would remain under her. If they were like that when night fell, it seemed likely that they would stay that way all night and the chick would most likely survive.
Fortunately, when we got up in the morning, all four chickens–Ella, Daisy, Caroline, and the chick–were up and about. Apparently Caroline had indeed stayed with the chick all night.
Having been the savior of the chick, we booted Ella and Daisy out of the mobile coop and granted former Auntie Caroline full hen-mom status. She’s been great all day and I swear the chick has grown in just 24 hours. Meanwhile, Ella and Daisy are not entirely happy that “their” chick is inside the mobile coop. They grumble, stalk the edge of the coop, and pig pile or sunbathe at whatever end where the chick is feeding. But they have also wandered away, attracted by green grass and tasty bugs. They tend, however, to stay close to the coop and have turned into Warrior-Aunts. Heidi got a little too close to the coop this afternoon and Ella pounced on her. It was actually quite funny.
So, in the end, Saint Caroline saved the day. She stayed with the yellow chick all night and now has official hen-mom duties. Meanwhile, Warrior-Aunts Ella and Daisy are defending the mobile coop and periodically look inside–a little pathetically, but they seem to be shifting roles to protective aunts without too much trouble.
P.S.: I’d include photos, but the camera battery has died so I’ll post some tomorrow.