"I knew it!" I exclaimed in the barn, jumping in the air like I just won the lottery, sounding as vindicated as a crow on corn. "I just KNEW IT!"
For weeks I had been noticing less and less eggs around the barn, the Ameraucanas and Pumpkins weren't anywhere to be found. With the daylight hours just right and those hens in a safe big barn, I just knew that somewhere there was a broody hen sitting on a pile of eggs. I just didn't expect it to be ten feet in the air...
These six home-brewed chickens were found in the hayloft of the old barn. After a few minutes of pouring flashlight streams under rabbit cages and moving feed containers I realized all that chirping was coming from above. A Pumpkin Hulsey hen had made her nest right below the loft's front window. When I climbed that rickety ladder and saw six little poofballs running around, I scooped them up and put them in the egg basket. There was no water, no feed, and a ten foot fall to freedom for these little guys. What was their mother thinking? So I brought them indoors and let them join the 57 meat birds and 2-week old laying hen chicks in the now very-cramped brooder. But a tightly packed, warm, food-and-water stocked brooder bet the roomier outdoors tonight. A cold burst is swiping through Veryork, and they are even calling for frost in the northern mountains....These little guys didn't stand a chance outdoors unless their mama could wrangle them back to the nest. Not trusting her judgement, I took a few more of the eggs she was resting on and brought them into the brooder as well. Maybe some would hatch right here in the farmhouse.
The new loft residents are a mix of Pumpkin Hulsey and either Light Brahma or Ameraucana. These are the sons and daughters of Winthrop and Upset, and I hope a few make it right to the roaster or laying stage. I'm pretty stoked to know the bird population can find a way to sustain itself. Let's hear it for those fine people at Greenfire Farms, raising heritage birds who know how to get the job done right!
What a wonderful surprise. What a damn happy thing. And what a fine irony that right before I went outside to do my night chores I popped a chicken for the oven for dinner! One life taken, and six more welcomed in its place. You just don't get that kind of awestruck grace every day.
Here's to new life. This place is lousy with it!