At three and half weeks old the four little fluffballs are doing incredibly well and have proved that rearing chicks is quite easy. Tiny, the last of the clutch to hatch and who looked rather off colour for the first days of life, is almost unrecognisable from her three clutch mates. I say her because as I recollect, Rhode Island Red hen chicks are slightly dark in colour than their cock counterparts. If this is true then my wish of having two of each has come true, with two scrumptious meals of Coq au Vin already being planned. My two young ladies meanwhile will stay with the coop as, after the death of both Little Red and Elle there is space for two new layers.
Whilst I couldn’t put Little Red into the main coop until several months old as the older hens viciously attacked him, this little quartet seem to be doing rather well. Georgia soon put herself back at the top of the pack after being away for six weeks and, especially for Buff Nankins Gabby and Charlotte, ferociously defended her chicks with much clucking, pecking and unbridled attacking.
I love how little chicks almost instantly take on adult traits and today, with the weather so dry and there run rather dusty, they set about taking very mini and very cute dust baths. Another found a worm and the ‘Lady and the Tramp’ scene ensued as two of them gripped either end in a bid to eat this tasty delicacy. One of the joys of rearing chicks is seeing these tiny balls of down turn into adults at an astonishingly fast rate. And with much cheeping and cuteness my quartet are thriving.
Any keen followers of my blog will know that there’s been a rollercoaster of a ride in the hen house over the past few months. First, the hens got a leading role on The Horticultural Channel, making their in episode one and then Georgia and Little Red showcasing their talents in episode two. Little Red then, filled with the joys of spring, revealed her *ahem* his true nature to me and after some muffled 6am crowing had to go to the coop in the sky. Georgia became broody like no end and settled down upon her third clutch of eggs and then only a couple of weeks ago poor fluffy ell became fatally eggbound and also winged her way towards the clouds. However, I have fantastic news because, as of yesterday, four tiny fluffy russett coloured Easter chicks are now peeking and cheeping from underneath Georgia’s ruffled breast.
Of the six eggs four hatched which is pretty good. One was unfertile whilst one had started to grow and later become addled. Still, these chicks are absolutely gorgeous as ever and are already intrigued by everything they see. The lacklustre and complimentary salad that came with last night’s takeaway had a few pieces of cucumbers that were happily pecked this morning. And whilst Little Red may be gone, we now have Little Red Retake 2, 3, 4 and 5!
After 21 days of religiously incubating, Georgia has done her best to ensure new life in the hen house. I’m pretty disappointed. I’ve never before had problems with buying hatching eggs on eBay, and have had pretty successful hatch rates. However, this batch of Rhode Island Reds, only one from six eggs hatched.
This however does not take away from the absolute cuteness of my new little family member. Whilst the Light Sussex chicks were traditional yellow fluff balls, this little one has a glorious red tint to its fluff, making it all the more cuter to me. Georgia is nestling, glowing and chattering with pride at her new chick, and as always is completely at ease with my hand groping around under her heat radiating breast.
Having wanted to have five or six chicks so that I could replace a couple of laying hens and have some chooks left for the chop, this little one’s fate is a pure 50/50. If she grows to be a happy hen, then her place in the coop and resulting bottom of the pecking order, is ensured. However, should he turn to be a Cockerel, well, I’m afraid his days are likely to be numbered. But for now, I will simply love it for its cuteness, for its naivety and for its fresh new steps, and cheeps, into life.