I am pleased to announce that we have more babies! I mean Frodo has more babies. This morning I managed to spot four chicks by peeking under Frodo. Things were getting exciting. At lunch time the three of us went to see Frodo and her babies. The Husband tried to moved Frodo gently and got pecked. The Little Fulla laughed. The Husband tried repeatedly to see the chicks under Frodo and kept getting pecked. Peck. Peck. Peck. The Little Fulla thought this was hilarious. He laughed at the chicken pecking his father and I laughed at him laughing. Frodo must think we’re nuts. After The Little Fulla went to sleep we got to do a proper chick check. I gave gloves to The Husband and he carefully lifted Frodo while I took out the broken egg shells. I gasped as I realised there were no eggs left. No whole eggs. There were eight babies!
Eight purebred Australorp chicks out of eight eggs for a 100% hatching success rate. Wow! Now I’m the crazy lady who keeps proclaiming, “Eight babies!” to the world. I’m feeling very pleased with myself seeing as it’s my first time hatching chicks. Not that it was all me. Lets take a moment to appreciate the fertility of Frodo and Elrond (they were obviously even more snuggly than I thought they were) and the mothering skills of Frodo. What a good mum. I was a bit nervous about how well the eggs would go since seven of them were stored until Frodo went broody. I think the oldest one was nine days old. The storage tips I read really paid off.
In my excitement I forgot to take a photo of them all together. One of the chicks was still a bit wet so we quickly put Frodo back down. Meanwhile, some of the others had escaped the nesting box and were scrambling around the coop. Frodo got some to climb back under her and the others she started to teach how to eat from the food container I put in front of her. As I watched them and attempted to take photos of the fidgety chicks, I marveled at the ability of Frodo to teach three or four of her brand new babies how to eat, all the while keeping the others under her where it was warm, and the way they would lovingly look up at her and she would look back at them likewise. Oh, this is a marvelous adventure.
I am curious for more chick viewings. I think there are at least two slightly lighter chicks, which could be blue ones. According to the interwebs, a cross between a blue Australorp and a black Australorp will produce 50% blue and 50% black offspring. So there are really only two options. There is one chick I recognise from my few viewings, which I call The Smoky Chick. It has less light patches on it than the others and is slightly lighter. I’m pretty sure there’s no milkman around here…
Well, I suppose that was the easy part. Now I have to keep the babies alive, protecting them from diseases, pests and predators. I have a lot of faith in the mothering ability of Frodo though. She is doing a splendid job as a first-time mum so far. Thank goodness I didn’t have eight human babies at once. Yikes.
Meanwhile, Sam is still in isolation while I observe her and Elrond and Legolas got to discover their new pen this afternoon. They were very excited. They walked around in their ‘explorer’ position, necks stretched up all tall, and made delighted noises. When I put the treats bowl in there Elrond straight away started to feed Legolas. I have seen him feed her before since Frodo has been broody, pulling food out of the bowl and putting it on the ground for her. I haven’t seen him feed Sam. Whether he prefers her less or she is giving him the cold shoulder I don’t know, but he has grown fond of young Legolas. This time I witnessed something a little different. He put some food down for Legolas then did a little dance in a half circle around her. How cute! I hadn’t seen him dance before. Legolas has come of age, although I don’t expect her to start laying until spring. I wonder who’s going to be his favourite when Frodo rejoins him? He really was very fond of Frodo.