. . . quite a handful for big Black Cochin mother-hen, but she took it in her stride and looked after her brood of nine very lively chicks admirably – in fact I think she's the very best mother-hen we've ever seen!
It's now eight weeks since the chicks hatched, the Black Cochin hen is looking wistfully at her friends in the hen-run where she used to live, so my neighbour and I are making plans for the chicks' futures . . .
. . . and that's proving quite tricky! It's going to mean making some very difficult choices.
Nine chicks hatched:
2 Red Silkies – 1 x male / 1 x female ?
2 Marans – 1 x male / 1 x female ?
2 x Silver Partridge Pekin Bantams – 1 x male / 1 x female ?
3 x Lavender Araucanas – 2 x male / 1 x female
Have you spotted the problem yet? Yeah right! A lot of boys!!!!!
After a lot of pacing up and down, phone calls, text messages and sitting on a seat in my neighbours garden looking at the chicks and willing them to change sex, we have the start of a plan . . . and the first stage was to move all three Araucanas into my garden, so they can settle down and get used to being away from their mum.
We noticed that the Araucanas were growing and maturing much quicker than the other breeds; they are inquisitive and sociable; they love to perch on things and explore . . .
One of the boys is bigger and a slightly darker shade of dove-grey, someone in the village in interested in eventually giving him a home with their flock of hens. But he needs to grow a bit more before that happens, so he's staying with his brother and sister for a few more weeks.
The smaller boy and the girl are a cute pair, I'd like to keep them as a breeding pair . . . but there's a slight problem – our mature cockerel, Tarragon. Another difficult decision I'll have to face.
In the mean-time all three of them are settling down in their new home, and getting along just fine :-) After Tarragon, the senior under-gardeners and Spice Girls are in bed, the little Araucanas are allowed out of their small run to explore the lawn. They love catching insects!