Yesterday was a big day for the chicks hatched by the two broody hens - they began their acquaintance with the great outdoors.
The sun was shining and the temperature was climbing, so Kim got the chicken tractor set up with a wind cover over half, a heat lamp, and one of her newly built double nest boxes. Then we transferred the two mamas and their chicks from the special coop enclosure where they have been living, to outside. We thought there might be at least a brief period of adjustment, but the mamas immediately began making their "come get some food" clucks and demonstrating how to peck at the ground for grass and bugs, and before we could even get the camera focused those chicks were busy at work.
The parenting instincts of our broody hens are an amazement to us. Without having been raised by a mama hen themselves, they somehow know just what to do. They sat on the eggs, hatched the chicks, kept them warm, showed them what to eat and how to drink, defended them even from Kim, who has the bloody pecks on her hands to prove it. They didn't have to take a course, or read a book. And the fact that they are doing it together, sharing the chicks and the chick-raising duties, is a continuing delight to us.
Hatching eggs in an incubator is really, really cool. But watching these hens and their chicks is magic.