Every time Bud refers to “Helen and the Chicks” I can’t help but think it sounds like the name of a Rock Group…and I can’t help but break out into song every time he uses the phrase, “Helen and the Chicks.”
Helen and the chicks
Living in the sticks
They are the gurrrrls.
Rudy Toot, Too
Watchin’ over his pearls.
Preenin’ and a Peckin’
Scratchin’ and a’Catchin’
Worms, Moths and Bugs
The girls go a’ runnin’
When they see that Rudy commin’
To escape his rooster hugs
(Okay, okay. I never claimed I had talent as a song writer, but I wish you could at least hear the tune in my head and see the ‘moves’ that go with it. Maybe you would like my song a little more.) 😉
Let me tell you…if you are a small-time farmer or backyard chicken enthusiast, letting a broody Mama do it is the way to go! I haven’t had to do anything. Helen is doing it all. She instinctively knows what they want or need. I’m so impressed with how good of a Mama she is! I feel so guilty of for all of the times I tried to break her of being broody.
Helen had them out with her foraging just 2 or 3 days after they hatched. When they got cold, they would just cuddle underneath her, and she would just snuggle them for a while, and then back to doing chicken things they would go!
She has taught them how to catch bugs, and just a few short days after that, they were finding their own stuff in the grass. Still, she always searches for things for them. When she finds something, she kills it, and then makes a distinctive call for them to come get it.
She has taught them how to dust bathe, too. At first, the just stood there while she took a dust bath. About a week or two later, they finally took the clue and they were all out there dust bathing beside her. It was the cutest thing!
I can’t believe how fast they are growing. I can almost see them getting bigger day by day, and they have started to put on their real feathers. Sometimes, they lag behind Helen, and then they jump up flap their wings, and take flight for a few seconds while running. It’s adorable!
They are still sleeping with Helen in the large cardboard box inside the hen house. At first, I was letting the cat out for several hours before letting Helen and the chicks out. Just a few days ago, I finally let the cat out during the day while we watched. Helen is the only hen that has proactively attacked the cat. There was one time when she was broody that she detected the cat just outside of the hen house, and she came out all puffed up like a turkey, chirping at the cat. She made several lunges toward the cat and the cat backed off! I can’t say as much for Rudy (who, it turns out, is somewhat of a ‘wienie’.)
Rudy has done very little in the way of protecting the girls. I’ve been very disappointed. Unlike the first few days he arrived here, he has been going inside before all of his girls are inside. I take him off the roost, carry him to the steps of the porch and give him a ‘talkin’ to.’ We watch all of the girls go inside as I hug him and pet him and squeeze him and love him and rub his feathers the wrong way…all while telling him how a rooster is supposed to be. I’m beginning to think he just does it for the attention. Either that, or he had no role model when he was a ‘young’un’.
We still have all four of the chicks that hatched, but I’ve had a really hard time getting pictures of them. I had ordered 12 fertilized eggs of various breeds. Of the ones they sent me, I believe that the four chicks that made it are Rhode Island Red, Americauna, Blue Cochin and Black Copper Marans.
I have taken these pictures over several weeks and you can see the different stages of growth in all of the different pictures. Some of them even have tail feathers starting to grow in now. These are some of the latest pictures I took (and the hardest to get) which I took on October 25th.
Though it’s really too early to tell, based on the their mannerisms, stance, development, I’m afraid that we have a couple of roosters amongst the chicks. We really need hens. Only time will tell, though.
It has been so interesting to raise chicks this way and to see the instincts God placed in them. If you have a persistently broody hen, I highly recommend allowing her to raise some chicks.