A Day Without Mama

Day 58 of 365

I seem to always forget how tough it is for baby chicks when their mamas are done. It’s a difficult process to watch (the mama pecks them to make them go away, and the babies are terribly confused by this), and I do everything in my power to make the transition easy. I spent all day dealing with the baby chicks. I think, considering, it wasn’t a terrible day for the babies, but it was still a hard day they had to spend mostly without their mama.

This morning, I could tell Ruby was done, so I spent a good part of the morning try to herd baby chicks into the fenced area without their mama. I’m going to tell you right now that herding baby chicks is not that much different than herding cats. I had to get my son to help, but we managed to get all seven babies into the fenced area. Ruby observed from a distance.

This is Dvorak. He’s a little Lavender Orpingtons rooster, and he’s the sweetest chicken I think I have ever met. I hope he stays sweet.

I had the idea, to help the babies have something else to focus on, that I would put my brood of five baby chicks in the fenced area with Ruby’s. I figured having new people to meet would help take their minds off of life without a mama. It seemed to help.

Of course, with all of this going on, I was in and out of the house all day checking on everyone, and every time I went outside to check, poor Ruby was doing something strange and different. It’s the hormones. The hormone shifts can be tough on mamas.

The first time I went out the door, Ruby was trying to come into the house. I picked her up (and it was very unusual for her to let me) and talked and talked to her. I put her in the coop, and she walked up the food and started eating grown-up food for the first time in a couple of months. It must have felt so strange.

The second time I went out to check on everyone, Ruby had flown over the fence and was in Kate’s crate. The third time, she was in Juliet’s crate. The fourth and fifth time, she was still in Juliet’s crate, and when I went over to her, she ducked and hid in the straw. Ron reported seeing this same behavior. We both expressed concern.

Later in the day, I sat outside on a tree stump with all of the babies in the fenced area. My babies were thrilled with the new situation. Ruby’s babies were adjusting. One Ruby’s, one of the girls, cautiously approached me. But she didn’t get too close. My babies, on the other hand, were all over me. I have never had a group of chickens be so snuggly. It’s the best! I sat for the longest time with one of the girls and the little rooster, Dvorak, in my lap.

As I sat there with the baby chicks, I watched Ruby. She was sitting for the longest time, just watching the ducks. I have never seen a chicken do this. She just sat and stared. I imagined she wished she could just be a duck, like maybe it was simpler. For real, today, I think it would have been.

At the end of the day, Ruby got into her own crate and let her babies in to sleep on her. This is common. I have found that when the mamas are switching off from being a mama, they will still let the babies sleep with them at night, but usually only for a few more days.

The babies are having to get used to life without a mama. Now, it’s my job to try to become their mama. Sometimes, when they have been raised by the real thing, it takes me a year or two to win them over. It’s okay though, as I enjoy the process of getting to know them.

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