Today Christina and I will be like grandparents off to the hospital to meet new grandchildren. We’re getting new baby chicks.
Big Mama the Responsible, Moll the Pecky Drama Queen, and Little Peep Who Chicken-Struts to a Different Drummer are fine, though for the last couple of days they have not been laying eggs. Anyway, they’re about a year old, which is getting along in hen years (even utterly spoiled, well-protected hens), so we purchased some new baby chicks. Today we are supposed to pick the new babies up from one of the farm stores on Whidbey.
We are so lazy and depraved. We don’t have a rooster. We didn’t have our hens hatch their own babies. We are likeUSA adult humans who adopt children from Romania, or China, or Africa instead of having our own babies.
To begin with, the baby chicks will live in a creche upstairs where they can imprint on us and eat chicken baby food. Gradually they will learn to eat a bug and weed or two, go for brief trips outside. They have to be kept separate from the three older hens (who would probably peck them to death). After they see each other through a fence, the older hens and chicks will get to spend a few minutes together, until they gradually learn to live with each other.
The perch in the hen house only has room for five hens, so we are only getting two new ones. The mishap rate for baby chicks is high. Last time we started with four babies and one had to be mercy-killed. The chicks are supposed to be “sexed” (roosters separated out before selling them) but sometimes cocks get through. Instead of keeping roosters to waken neighbors and fertilize the eggs, most people around here stick with hens. If they get roosters, instead of eating them, the sentimental chicken raisers try to give them away. The local recycling station has a whole flock of “rescued” roosters who strut around and perch on the bins of paper and bottles and cans. So the whole process is fraught with drama and risk, like life itself.
During my life, people of different races have gone through a similar process here in the United States, gradually learning to live with each other. In other places, such as the Middle East, it is taking a lot longer for different groups to learn to live with each other without pecking each other to death. Dumb as chickens are (and believe me, they are really dumb), they don’t hold a candle to human beings.