A Good Mama

20150703_062351Little D’s chicken, Snow White, went “broody” about a month ago…this means she started collecting eggs and sitting on them to hatch them. Unfortunately, without a rooster none of our eggs can hatch, I’ll spare you the chicken reproductive system. We drove out to Duda Lang Farm and bought a dozen fertilized eggs and put them under Snow White. Twenty-one days later we were supposed to have cute little chicks following their mama around as she teaches them how to eat and drink and survive in the world.

 

By the end of day 1 we were down two eggs…eaten by other hens while Snow White got up for a quick nibble of food and to stretch her legs.  (A broody hen sits on her clutch of eggs day and night for 21 days, turning them every 15 minutes to help them develop properly.)  We started keeping a closer eye on them, especially whenever Snow White got up for her brief daily meal. After a couple of weeks eggs started to disappear. We’re not sure what was happening but by “hatch” day we were down to only 3 eggs.

20150703_071827On Thursday night, before I went to bed I checked the eggs and found that two of them had a little crack, “pip”, in them (an air hole) showing that they would hatch soon. The next day we anxiously watched and waiting as one of the eggs slowly opened more and more. It was almost all the way open when we decided to have lunch and nap time. After nap time when we went to check on the new chick…it was gone. All that was left was half of a shell. We suspect that another hen ate it.

 

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So we blocked off the other hens in an attempt to save the next chick. We waiting excitedly all day and finally after dinner it made it’s appearance. A floppy little black chick cracked out of it’s egg, exhausted but triumphant. We kept a careful eye on Snow White to make sure she was careful with her new little chick. All was well as we put the littlest three kids to bed. We let the big kids hold the 1 hour old chick before they went to bed. When Kirk and I checked on it before we went to bed it had been smothered under Snow White. The third egg turned out to be a dud and had died before even hatching.

20150704_110316This day was such an emotional roller-coaster. The highs of watching the eggs slowly hatching. The lows of checking on them to find death and an empty nest. The next day we went back out to the farm and I debated and debated whether to get young chicks to give to Snow White (apparently we could sneak them under her at night and she’d wake up and assume they’re hers). “Maybe I can teach her to be a good mama hen. Maybe if they’re a little bigger she won’t smoosh them. Maybe if there’s more of them she’ll be a better protector.” In the end we got six week old chicks…just about the age that chicks are off on their own and the mama starts laying eggs again for her next clutch. It wasn’t worth the risk.  Snow White was not a good mama.  She didn’t keep her eggs safe enough to develop properly into chicks.  She didn’t keep the eggs or chicks safe from the other hens. She wasn’t able to keep them safe from herself.

Coincidentally, as we’ve been having discussions with Little D about Snow White being a good mama to sit on her eggs and keep them safe and warm, we’ve also begun conversations with him about adoption.  Adoption in general, and specifically his adoption into our family.  This weekend, as we watched Snow White’s patient sitting on her eggs come to nothing…we talked with Little D about how he will not be able to live with his birth mom again.  Snow White was unable to keep her eggs safe and provide them will all that they need to survive in the world.  Little D’s birth mom was unable to keep him safe and provide him with all that he will need to survive in this world.  We told him that since he can’t go back to live with his birth mom we were asked if he could keep living with us and be part of our family forever.  And we said, “YES! We would love to have his as a part of our family forever.”  We told him that since we picked out names for Joanna and Sam when they were born and so we had picked out a new name for him too.  We were going to change his name to Daniel.  He asked if he was going to have Daddy’s name and was very excited that he would be a Ward forever.  The court system is moving slowly, but the movement is forward.  We hope to have an adoption date before the end of the year.

Daniel with "White Head"

Daniel with “White Head”