Yesterday, I went for a drive and came home with these little cuties.
The people were very helpful and said we'd have no trouble putting day olds underneath Melly as they were hatched that day and she'd been on the nest and isolated for almost three weeks. We crossed our fingers and after the tips and information from the farmers, we brought them home.
Before dusk I put the little chicks, enclosed in their box on top of Melly's tea chest nesting box, so that she could hear the chicks peeping but not see them (apparently simulating the chicks preparing to hatch from their eggs). Then not long after dusk, I snuck into the wood shed and one by one slipped the little chicks hidden in my hand under Melly. Their little cheeping stopped as soon as they were amongst Melly's warm feathers and they instinctively knew to burrow their way in.
I felt that it went well and that nature would take it's course, but then came the nerve wracking wait till the morning to see if she had accepted them and has switched over her hormones into mother protection mode.
I didn't sleep! I was more excited than I ever was on Christmas Eve as a child!
At 5:30am I couldn't handle it any more and went to let the other girls out (who start being noisy around 5). I poked my head into Melly's shed and saw this:
She was in a rather strange position and highly alert and made strange purring growl noises at me. Hmm, I thought, could she have already accepted them? What is this high tail business about? I couldn't hear any cheeping but she did look a bit funny like something was not quite right...
I thought that surely the chicks would be hungry and need a feed but I didn't want to interfere with Melly and potentially upset proceedings.
I went to the La Trobe market to get my weekly veggies, spending the whole time thinking about Melly. What if she crushes them to death with her weird tail position? Did I put them in the right spot under her? Is she healthy enough to look after them? What if I killed them when I put them under her and that's why they were silent!?!?!?!? Way too much for a girl to handle on a Sunday morning after enjoying some NZ's finest Savinguan Blanc the night before (a little too much that is).
I came home to check. Nothing. I put the food away. Nothing. And then I went back out (AGAIN) 20 minutes later and talked to her. She was slightly distracted. A few feathers here and there were moving. She was blinking, moving her beak and quietly clucking, moving her head side to side, as though she was listening, talking... I was holding my breath.
AND THEN I SAW A LITTLE BEAK! AND THEN A FLASH OF PALE YELLOW.
AND THEN A WHOLE CHICK!!!
AND THEN TWO!!
I fell over in excitement.
I ran to get the camera and the chick mash.
AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR!
They were happily eating and pecking at their new Mummy as she was ravenously eating after so long of not even a sip of water! She seems to know what to do and fluffs up around her little babies like an expert.
So far so good and fingers crossed!
Hopefully my little Lavender Araucana and Silver Laced Wyandotte's will grow into strong happy girls under the guidance of their first time, determined mother who doesn't seem to have minded the fluffy and cute intervention!
Now I can relax and catch up on some sleep!