Amazing things are happening this early part of winter on the farm. 4 of our hens have been sitting on eggs and our first new chicks have hatched! Now, I am up to my elbows in little chicks.
Sadly, the daddy of these chicks is no longer with us. The most gentlemanly rooster I have met so far, had a tennis ball sized cancerous growth on his neck and so we had to say goodbye. After the previous week's attack and the loss of my most beautiful, fattest, double-yolk egg laying hen- Hope- to a hawk, the loss of Rocky was a severe blow.
2 of the chicks also did not make it. When a chick hatches, it has 3 days until it must eat and drink water and if not, death is very swift. The stores from the egg will last those 3 days. It seems, this new mother would not leave her nest of another 9 eggs (communal nesting is a problem!), to sort out these early hatchlings. She would essentially have had to abandon the other eggs to raise the 2 babies. She was not willing and in my inexperience, I did not help the 2 chicks, putting their beaks into the water bowl and showing them how to peck for food, while mom was still busy. I did better on the next one!
|Blanche and 3 of her chicks.|
Wonderful news though, the hen who had had no eggs hatch yet ( a white hen appropriately named Blanche Devereaux), has 4 chicks! Actually, she stole 1 chick from another mom who was still on the nest. What a wonderful, first-hand education my child is getting. We had almost given up on the viability of the rest of the eggs but now there are a total of 8 chicks wandering around cheeping their heads off. Just like Max.
This picture at first glance looks lovely. Max certainly likes this spot. When you realise that this is erosion from the neighbour's farm now working its way into ours, it's most alarming. It will require some major- and very expensive -work to halt this fall away of precious topsoil. It would be much worse if there were no wattles and palmiet holding it in place for the time being. The farmhouse is in the distance above.
It seems we aren't the only ones trying to stay warm. This beautiful (and rather large) puff adder was under the sewing machine table where Granny & I sew almost every day. Granny found it after I told her there was a mouse or something in her fabric boxes. tee hee!
There have been many puff adders this autumn and we have been happy to see so many babies around. Wary but happy.