Harriet Hen-Chick is the first born of our five chicks. Yesterday morning Hannah Hen (aka Mama Hen) tried to bring her chicks outside into the run for their first bit of fresh air and sunshine. But only one chick was brave enough / clever enough to jump over the little lip at the top of the ramp to go outside (you can see the little lip in the photo below). And that was Harriet.
So Mama and Harriet were both outside in the run and the other four chicks were inside the house looking out. So Mama Hen went back up the ramp to encourage them down. Then she came back down to show them how it is done but still the four sat at the top of the ramp peeping loudly as though their little lives were in danger.
So Mama Hen gave up went back up the ramp and into the house. I didn’t see her go back in because I had run off to get Haitch to tell him the chicks were on their way outside. But when we came back outside Hannah Hen had already gone back in to calm her noisy little brood.
Because this was the very first time we had seen the chicks out of the nest, we decided to lift the roof of the hen house and peep inside. Then of course I had to get my camera and take a couple of photos.
So after marvelling at these cute little things for a few minutes, we went back inside and Haitch left to go to the supermarket. But just before he left, he said “I only saw four chicks in the house. Did the one that was outside go back in”? Without thinking I said “Yes, she must have been behind something in the house somewhere and we just didn’t see her.”
But then after he had driven off, I thought I had better check to make sure all five chicks were present and accounted for. I opened the roof to the hen house and counted, one, two, three, four. I peered around the feeders and behind Mama but still only four. (The photo above is one Haitch and I had taken earlier. There are four chicks, one is just visible between Hannah Hen and the water bowl.)
I was starting to get a bit anxious by now. I put the roof down and checked in the nesting boxes at one end of the house, the ones with the upturned buckets in so that she couldn’t mistakenly sit in the wrong nests. Maybe the fifth one was hiding behind the buckets. No, there was no sign of her. So I went around the back of the hen house to lift the lid of the other nesting boxes to see if she was there.
As I was walking around the back, I heard a very loud peeping. It sounded like she was outside. Surely not! How would she have got outside? So I bent down to look under the house where I heard the sound coming from and there was tiny, wee Harriet huddled under the nesting box outside on the ground. She must have been out there for at least fifteen minutes.
I carefully stretched my hand towards her and she scuttled off further under the house. Oh my gosh! And I am home on my own. How am I going to do this? If she goes further under the hen house I will never reach her. Some kind of net (like a small butterfly or fishing net) would be perfect but of course we don’t have a net, do we!
So as I was frantically running inside to look in the cupboards for something that I might use, I thought of my kitchen sieve. So I grabbed it out of the drawer and went quickly back outside trying not to frighten Harriet further back under the house. I knelt down and there she was, still in the same place peeping loudly for her Mama who was just above her in the house clucking back at her. Thank goodness for that. It was keeping Harriet in the one place.
So I quickly but carefully stretched the sieve towards her, eased it over her and pulled her towards me. Relief! I was able to catch her and pop her back in the nesting box with Mama. I could not believe my luck at being able to return Harriet Hen-Chick back to the brood.
I quickly checked the run for gaps. I was sure I had made it chick proof. I had gone around the perimeter of the run so many times with my fingers to make sure there were no gaps between the base of the run and the ground that was big enough for a mouse to squeeze in.
And then I found it.. There was a little gap under the pop door / ramp. I hadn’t checked there. I fixed the gap so tightly that I don’t think even spider could have crawled it! By the time I had finished and got the pop door open again, Hannah Hen had all of her chicks out of the nest and was ready to try again. She went back down the ramp and into the run. This time after a few minutes, all five chicks had followed her down into the run. One at a time braved the little lip before getting onto the ramp and running down to join the others.
I was so paranoid that I have spent the last two days counting chicks to make sure there are still five.