The chicks at 10 days old
The chicks are getting too big for their box. Yesterday I came into the room and found only two in there. Visions of CatFace finally getting over her scaredy-cat-ness and taking one for herself flitted through my head. But, thankfully, no. (And she is locked out of their room so no need to panic!) The third, the one we're calling Dudley, was still intact and on the floor, sitting quietly and probably a little scared.
When I came to the room later, again, there were just two in the box. This time Moonface was on the floor.
Before I go any further I should explain their names. We have Dudley who is the large black and white one. Moonface who is the black one and the brown one is called Silkie. Because she is a Silkie breed. And, if you've read Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree you'll understand why we named them thus. Dudley, however, is Dudley from Harry Potter. We have a Harry Potter theme with oh-so-many of our animals.
Then today I caught Moonface perched on the edge of the box.
So, a change of living accommodation is needed. And the room is smelling vaguely of chicken poop which is not a good smell. (And yes, I change their bedding a lot but they just poop so much!)
The first ten days of keeping chicks is quite straightforward. They're too small and too sleepy to do or want for much. It's basically check their food (they eat a lot of chick crumbs) and give them clean water (they will poop in the water they've no self-control).
But now they're getting leggy. They want to play and flap about. They can jump and they're inquisitive. I can hear them as I type, scratching about it their box, pecking at the cardboard, making other noises that sound like they're up to something dodgy...They need space. But they also still need warmth and their Mama (that's me, by the way. I've tried to palm them off onto DogFace but it didn't work).
I've been taking them outside for them to get used to grass and the noises from the other animals - plus hardening them up a bit. If it's a warm weekend then I'll pop them in the ark where they'll be safe from predators and let them bask in the sunshine (and give my room a good airing). Then bring them in to warm up every now and again (if needs be) and especially at night. They're still too little to stay outside without the warmth of a Mama Hen for long periods of time.
Sadly, the adult chickens have taken no notice of them at all. I was hoping one might see them and think, ooh babies, I'll look after them - but no luck so far. Funnily enough the ducks seemed to be more interested while we were out there. But then, one of the ducks is flirting with broodiness herself. (Or they could have been thinking: that was us last year!)
Today I took them into the back field with DogFace. My faithful friend was there because a) she doesn't like to miss out and b) she is a sparrow hawk and buzzard deterrent. I took the chicks out of their box and sat on the grass, The chicks wriggled about a bit and Moonface climbed inside my cardigan, making her way up onto my shoulder. I felt like the Pigeon Lady from Mary Poppins and Home Alone.
(Incidentally I still have a sore freckle on my arm from where Dudley tried to peck it off during the filming of the above video.)
Eventually she came out of my cardigan and the three of them had a peck about in the grass. At first I thought they might run off - until I realised they weren't leaving my side.
Which was a rather special feeling.
After twenty minutes I popped them back in their box. Silkie and Moonface were easy to catch. Dudley is surprisingly light on his feet and gave me a bit of a run around. Then I brought them back indoors, switched on their lamp and gave them some food.