It takes a village to raise a chicken

Our three Lavender Orpington chicks who hatched at the end of July have reached that awkward, teenage stage. They’ve moved out of the brooder and are now busy little inhabitants of our outdoor coop area at the store, catching bugs, entertaining visitors and begging for treats. Time will tell whether we have girls or boys or both. I had hoped to hatch a few more chicks with the help of our Blue American Orpington hen, Indigo, but three for her was the magic number. After a couple of weeks, she was more than ready to return to her friends and turn the babies over to us, and we took them to the store.

But I still wanted a few more homegrown birds to add to our flock, which had suffered a loss over the summer from an exceptionally brazen fox. I kept hoping another of my girls would go broody, but, in typical chicken fashion, no one was particularly interested in cooperating with my plans.

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Luckily, our good friends and neighbors Rod and Sandy Rindy (check out Sandy’s blog at RindyBerry.com ) have a cute little bantam Wyandotte named Blue with big and pretty constant dreams of motherhood. A determined setter, Blue was thrilled when we introduced her to seven eggs produced by our hens and our now-deceased Lavender Orp rooster, Oscar. Blue carefully nurtured them for 21 days, successfully hatching out four healthy chicks. Two are Lavender Orpingtons, and two appear to be buff/lavender crosses that look like they will be some kind of blue-laced buff, or red. These aren’t show birds, but they sure are pretty, and if they take after the hens in our flock they will be friendly, productive, winter-hardy chickens. Blue has been an attentive, excellent mother, teaching the chicks all the things little chickens need to know. But now she’s losing interest, and it’s time for the chicks to move on to the next phase of their little lives.

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Two have been claimed by our young chicken whisperer friend, Meagan Edwards, who picked out one of the lavenders and one of the blue-laced buffs. In no time at all, she had the anxious babies calmly eating out of her hands, and perching on her arms. We know they’ve found a good new home. As for the other two little chicks that Blue fostered, we’re now ready to take them to the store. At CLUCK they’ll live in the wonderful brooder that our friend Steve built from copper pipe and Plexiglas. It’s been a beautiful and highly creative temporary home to a half dozen of our own birds, and perhaps a dozen of the babies that our friend Virginia raises as started pullets to sell. Although we don’t sell birds from the store, we think it’s fun for visitors to see firsthand what it’s like to raise baby chicks. And, of course, there are few cuter sounds than the contented peeping of small birds, which is another thing we’re looking, forward to living with at the store for the next few weeks.

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So, thanks to everyone who is helping our CLUCK village raise some chicks. Now we’ll just have to wait and see about the boy/girl ratios. Luckily, we think these will be attractive birds with a good future, no matter what their gender.