Monday, December 29, 2008
In memory of our chicks
Today is a sad day. When I went to the chook pen this morning to let the chooks out, I noticed the chicks weren't there. Being hen raised (not incubator) the chicks were the only ones of our flock to roost in trees occasionally, which they'd been known to do during the day, so we supposed they hadn't gone in that night with the others but roosted (which means they should have been safe.) The picture above is an old one. They have grown a fair bit - proper wings and feathers. Young poulets really though we still call them the chicks.
Those of you who have met the chicks know that they were allowed to free range, because they weren't causing damage like the others (who were limited to the pen and orchard). We often find them joining us out in the garden later in the morning after their morning forage. By mid morning I got anxious enough to do a thorough search of the property because I couldn't see them or hear them. Sure enough, beneath the grevillea hedge are the scattered feathers, some in clumps which we all know to mean 'fox attack'.
I have to admit I had a good bawl. Me, who was intent on not becoming attached to them because we knew a few were roosters and destined for the pot. But as I found the feathers of 'Blacky' (silently named, as we never 'gave' them names intentionally), and found the down from the one I thought of as the 'mafia chick' because of it's moustache shaped combs, I realised I had done the unthinkable and had thought of them as pets as much as stock.
It is just so disappointing. All that work by Stormy, the mother hen. And all the hours we spent watching them, and laughing at their antics in the mulch and garden. Few domestic birds are allowed to roam as ours did. What a shame.
What have we learned? Clip chicks wings (they were able to get in and out by flying) and keep them in the orchard with the others. It may not be as fun but it's safe.
Our only consolation (as if there is one really) is that for the brief time they lived, they were the happiest chicks we've ever met.
For now, just feeling very very sad. :(