God knows that everyone has their days when nothing goes right.... when things just don't meet expectations, so when you get those successful moments, it's worth sitting back and savoring. That's me this morning. While technically the chicken coop is not finished on the outside, it is finished on the inside. The nesting box is in. Two sets of perches are installed. And yesterday we took the chicks out to the new coop and installed them too.
They are beautiful little things. As their feathers are starting you can see the development of their pattern. They are brown and they are getting white patches under their wings and dots along their wing feathers. Tail feathers are just now starting to sprout so we have yet to see how they will turn out.
I was torn between running to town and buying more extension cords to reach the coop so I could install the heat lamp for the chicks. Frankly they have not been needing it in the house as our summer temperatures spiked and it was more then warm enough, but I was worried about the overnight drop in temperatures out in the coop. The other option was to get my terminally broody hen out of the other small coop and put her in with the chicks and see if she would turn into their mother. I opted for the latter as it required no money.
From what I have read, general chicken wisdom dictates that you move them at night, while they are asleep and they just wake up in their new situation and think that it is all normal. I kind of wanted to do it that way, but was worried that she would wake up early and not like the new normal and peck, possibly kill the chicks. I decided to amend procedure. I moved her at dusk when the girls were just settling in for the night. She was a bit upset over leaving the clutch of eggs she had been stealing from the other hens, but luckily we have a good relationship. I cuddled her up and grabbed some extra feed and headed to the new coop.
The chicks, still not used to their new surroundings, let out with a chorus of concerned cheeping as we came in the door. The hen perked up immediately. In the dim light I could just barely make out where the chicks had decided to nest up for the night. I grabbed a couple of handfuls of hay and built a quick nest next to the chicks and set the hen down. There was much more concerned cheeping. She responded with a noise I hadn't heard her make before. It came from deep in her throat and sounded like a cross between a cluck and a gulp. Apparently it meant something to the chicks. They settled down. Then they chirped a little and she would again respond with her gulping noise. Then she started preening, something I hadn't seen her do in the month and a half she has been brooding. After some additional fluffing she arched her wings and waited for them to scurry under. They had no idea what she was offering, but it seemed like a good place to leave them for the night.
Chores are done this morning. It was exciting to get to the coop and see how everybody made it through the night. It was toasty warm and smelled of fresh straw. The chicks were awake and taking advantage of all of their new space. They had spread out everywhere. Some were hiding behind the cross brace by the door. Some were in a line in the deep hay bed under the nesting boxes. Some were sitting in a row on top of the feeder and some were encompassing the hen, who was all fluffed up and warning me to be careful of her chicks. I changed out their water and stood for awhile and watched them all. It was a moment of perfect contentment. Happy me. Happy hen. Happy chicks.