This year’s chicks have had a rough go of it. They are seven weeks old now, and I am trying to decide if it is safe for them to be running free. You may remember that I set them up with a door in their cage that would allow them to do this, a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, it was too soon.
One day, I couldn’t find them. I normally could hear the “Peep peep peep” as they clustered around each other running from here to there. I tiptoed carefully around all the places I’d seen them before, to no avail. I’d almost given up when I noticed one step further and I’d have stepped on them, hiding under the weeds in the pasture. They were keeping very quiet and still.
I suspect they’d been witness to a murder. One of them was missing, and my guess is that a hawk had spotted them and picked the first one off, planning to come back for another snack whenever it got hungry again. I herded them back into their safe haven and closed up their door so they’d be unable to wander into danger again. That is where they have remained except for the few times the enclosure was breached for one reason or another and we’ve had to hunt them down and tuck them away in safety again.
In the mean time, they are growing fast and the largest is too big to slip through the fence anymore. The smallest is still quite little and looks like a baby but she is quick as a shot so if she is alert she should be able to dash out of the way of danger. Her sister was not.
We have four left, out of the eight we brought home this summer. Three died of injuries when they were tiny, and the fourth was the one who was whisked away. I grieve for each one, but all I can do is learn from the experience and figure out how to protect the others from a similar fate. I guess the next time I should buy twice as many as I really need. I am not yet enough of a farmer to look at little creatures as commodities.
As it is, today I decided to give them some freedom and hope they learn to come back to the fenced chicken run at night so they can be locked in safely like their brethren. I hope they all make it.