Broodiness - can get you everywhere.
Here is my chicken, sitting on her nest of five golf balls.
Take note of her puffed up appearance. This is code for -
Back off, Chick!
I have dealt with this bird for two weeks now, and she has not been shy about letting me know that she is the boss of this nest. In the beginning, she was laying an egg a day, and I was taking it out each night. I feared for my life! Well, maybe not my life, but my hand.
She sat on this nest, in her own little personal brood box, waiting patiently for her golf balls to hatch. Luckily, on Friday, her chicks came in. Not by the stork, not by some miracle from Titleist, but by way of the United States Post Office. Friday afternoon I picked up seven of the tiniest little babies from a local feed store. I brought them home, stuck them in the garage in a box and gave them a little feed and water for about an hour. Then I put them back in the box they were delivered in, and put a towel over them so that they were in darkness. This settled them down, and they were quiet for the rest of the evening.
Now you should know that I was in the middle of getting ready for a big market that we were attending on the next day. It was a little more than hectic around here. My Full-Timer decided to make plans with a friend, and she bailed on me for a few hours.
I managed to hold it together, and I was actually crossing things off of my list when she showed back up. At about 10:00, when it was dark, and I mean dark, we grabbed our babies and headed out to the barn. The plan was to be very quiet, and not turn any lights on.
We really could have used some moon light, but no luck.
We managed to get to the barn, and get inside with our rather large box. I made my way to the brood box and set the stork box on the ground next to me. Once I had the door open, I slowly reached in and put my hand on her back. In the total darkness, I knew she looked like the picture above. I was praying at this point that I would come out of this with all of my fingers. Once I got up my nerve, I reached my free hand under her and pulled out a couple of golf balls. If you have never been around a broody hen, you should know that they make a low clucking sound to let you know when they are not happy.
She was basically cussing me out at this point.
I managed to get the lid off of the stork box, and dropped the balls in and grabbed a handful of baby chicks. They were very quiet. I slid them under her, and immediately she stopped cussing me. I had to repeat this process a few times. Fishing around the chicks under her, so that I could grab only the remaining balls. Once this task was complete, I slowly closed the door, and I could hear the faintest chirping sound coming from under her. Part-Timer was saying a prayer, and then we made our way out.
To say that I was worried would be an understatement. I was exhausted by the time we called it a night, and it was a lot cooler then it had been in a while. Day old chicks need warmth. I would have had them under a heat lamp. I only hoped that Mom was doing a good job for every one's sake. If they didn't make it through the night, I knew she would get off the nest and her chance to be a Mother would be gone. We would have lost seven babies, and I would be forced to replace them and raise them on my own.
We were up at 6:00 the next morning, and we were running late. We grabbed our gear and got it loaded in the truck for market. Then we only had a short time to run to the barns, dump feed and hay, check every one's water, and let the big girls out. When I went in to check on the new Mother, she was sitting in the same spot. I could not see any babies, but I could hear chirping. I knew that some had made it, hopefully all of them. I was not about to check under her, so we had no choice but to be on our way.
We had a great Market day. We met a lot of new people and we enjoyed great weather, but it was a full day. We were dog tired when we pulled into the drive. The Man in Charge met us in the driveway to see how our day went, and when I asked my Part-Timer if she wanted to come check on the babies with me, he said, "They're alright." He tries to be a tough guy most of the time, but moments like this really make me love him more. He acts indifferent when it comes to my girls, but when he knew it meant a lot to me, he stepped up and made the trip out there to check on them himself. He would never admit it, but I know that if it hadn't gone well, he probably would have loaded up and went to the Feed Store to get them replaced before I came home.
This is what I saw when I went out there.
All seven of them, alive and well. Happily following their Momma around. You should know that I risked my life again to get these pictures. On two separate occasions, she stood up completely and fully extended her wings, flapping them violently and screeching at the same time. I took her warning seriously, and made myself as small as I could in the corner. Whatever it was she said, it was important to her that we get that straight, and I completely understood.
So, for those of you that spend your days out on the course knocking a few balls around. Feel free to place a bet with your competition that you have seen a golf ball do something that they never have. When they accept, point them here. It is the safest bet you will ever make.
We went from this...
This girl has earned a special place here, and she deserves a name.
Leave them in the comment section, and I will let you know which one we pick.