We got our Black Austrolorp hen Lily at REI. Really. Years back we lost a beloved Black Austrolorp to a fox. We scrambled to replace her for a grieving Barred Rock hen (Georgia). The Craigslist seller lived in Durham and suggested we meet at Southpoint. In the process of transferring the nervous hen to my carrier, she busted loose. Midday in the REI lot. It was a miracle we caught her and no one was hit. It was quite a scene for nearby shoppers. Needless to say, Lily has always been flighty. I’ve always called her a freak. Shame on me. Lily has found her calling.
A month ago we played hide & seek with a Welsummer hen we thought was broody. She was just a wanderer. Lily sat down to nest and meant business. She even moved her nest 4 times. A black snake had found the nest and was nightly raiding her clutch. We thought she was just being weird again. But we caught on, found the snake and replenished the eggs in the nest, although not holding out much hope.
This past weekend Spaghetti burst out of the coop yelling “They’re hatching!” We could hear muffled peeping coming from under her feathers. Within an hour we had a little grey
fluffball. Chicks are one of the great rewards of chicken keeping, especially when you have a hen doing the mothering. So I started paying attention and noticed Lilly had amassed 17 eggs – via daily donations from her laying associates . (She started with just 8!). This was way too much for any hen. I removed what I could identify as newer eggs to give the remainder a better chance of proper incubation. Despite all the moves and interruptions Lily sucessfully hatched 6 fluffy Taquitos this week, including 1 from our blue egg layer. Cute beyond compare.
We are delighted to welcome the new cooplings. It appears we have 4 Barred Rock crosses, 1 Buff Orpington cross, and 1 Cream Legbar cross (the blue egger). Despite their mixed breed genetics, they are our first full-blooded Buck Naked Babies and Taco offspring. It will be interesting to watch their coloring & personalities emerge since they are somewhat wildcards. Plus there is likely a little rooster (or 2 or 3) in the lot. Taco Jr!
The coop has been all abuzz about the new arrivals. It’s sounds like Charlotte’s Web of newsy chatter. Even the guineas and ducks have respectfully come to peek at the new family. Taco appears in the coop periodically looking curious and belting out his self-importance. And Georgia, Lily’s longtime friend, has been patiently sitting on the roost bar across from the nest box keeping her company.
These little ones have a long road ahead. Life on the farm can be tough. But we know that Lily can navigate REI. She is a survivor and hopefully they will be too. And since broodiness is contagious, we have had several other volunteer mamas. We’ve declined all but one very ornery Buff. She comically inflates like a beach ball when prodded and bites anything within reach. Protective mama. We loaded her nest with a different mix of egg breeds, including a dark brown egg layer. With a bit of luck and fewer snakes, we should see a totally different batch of Taquitos in late July. Chicken cigars all around from Taco. Thank you Lily!