We’ve had a pretty good turn here on the farm, with the right kinds of life and death.
Among the dead ones is a raccoon, which I am quite confident was decimating our corn patch/garden. The night we caught him, he was returning to finish the job…
To start with, Dad found a live trap at Harbor Freight Tools that I simply couldn’t pass up for the price. So he procured it, and brought it up to Missouri. We haggled through the illegible directions and got the thing set up. The next morning, we had snagged this thief:
I dispatched him with a single .22lr. Sure, some people think it’s cruel. But they haven’t seen the mangled corpses of my baby chickens after a raccoon dug into their pen. Such a sight will rid one of any hesitancy or remorse.
Speaking of baby chicks…
Two of our hens have felt suddenly maternal, and have spent the past three weeks brooding over two clutches of eggs. Our German Spitzhauben hen—we’ll call her Agathe—sat first, on a group of eggs that I, in my laziness, had neglected to collect for a few days. The eggs came from all, or the majority, of our seven hens.
Our Barred Rock hen—we’ll call her Lucy—took to sitting a few days after she noticed Agathe brooding. Lucy kept stealing Agathe’s nest when the latter got up for a drink of water, so we split the clutch of eggs and put each lady atop one. Over the next couple of weeks, they occasionally switched nests, for no apparent reason. But on Saturday, July 25, the first chick emerged—a full five days ahead of the anticipated “due date!”
Agathe was the first mother. Four chicks emerged, but the other four eggs proved stubborn, and after two days, the chicks hadn’t left the nest and I worried they’d die of thirst while the new mother waited for the other eggs. One chick did perish, though I suspect a birth defect was the culprit. So I moved Agathe, chicks, and eggs from their chest-high nesting box to a ground-level nest on Monday night. The next morning, she’d taken her chicks and left the eggs.
Hoping to salvage at least a few of the nearly-developed chicks, I tucked the eggs beneath Lucy, and saw that her first two eggs had hatched out little, black fluffy babies. One of the eggs I put underneath her was developing a small hole… and I heard tapping and peeping from inside.
That chick hatched only a couple of hours later.
Now we have seven chicks, with a couple of days left to see how many more hatch. In the meantime, Agathe has already begun instructing her chicks on the finer points of scratchery and peckery, and Lucy labors over her emerging brood, with the eager expectation of a mother-to-be.