Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mama Hen Update #3 - Carnage

You know those nature experiments that you get all excited about doing with your kids, but they go terribly wrong?  Like raising Monarch Butterflies, except the chrysalis gets dropped accidentally, completely annihilating the growing butterfly in the process.

I found a Praying Mantis egg case last Fall, when I was cleaning out my flower bed, so I stuck it in the nifty little clear plastic "creature case"  (it has had fish, tadpoles, Praying Mantises and caterpillars inside over its long history.)  Then I stuck it on a window sill in the garage, where it stayed all winter long.  This morning, JP noticed what he thought were ants all over the window sill.  The Praying Mantises apparently hatched yesterday, when it was close to 90 degrees outside, and were in the plastic case in the sun.  It looks like all of them perished.  I felt terrible when I saw the carnage...it's all my fault they met their doom in our garage!

I'm feeling a bit that way about Mama Hen these days too!  When I checked on her this afternoon, I realized that she only had 9 eggs under her...9!  I looked quickly around for the missing egg, but didn't find any signs of it until tonight.  There was a wet spot in the wood shavings in front of her nest.  Apparently another egg was pushed out, probably broke in the process, and was eaten.

I decided that in order to allow her to raise even a couple of chicks, it was in Mama Hen's best interest to move to quieter quarters.  Under cover of darkness, I moved the old Egg Cart'n down next to the Chicken Barge, filled only one nest box with clean, fluffy shavings, and carefully moved the remaining 9 eggs in.  I put Mama on top, and she muttered to herself while she rearranged them, but was peacefully sitting there when I left her.  She has her own food and water, a small run to scratch in during her coffee breaks, and blissful privacy.

Let's hope the rest of these babies actually make it...I'm extremely vested in their well being by now!

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