For some reason one our broody Serama momma’s decided to leave the nest yesterday, a day of serious storms, complete with thunder, lightening, hail and the volume of rain fall that floods the ground in a matter of minutes. The kind of rain that manages to thwart all our attempts at being prepared. The less than enjoyable kind of downpour, one that feels more like participating in the ice water bucket challenge, remember that craze?
So momma ventured off the nest, it looks like she took the first hatched babe with her as it was stronger, leaving behind a just hatched baby and a yet to pip egg in the nest. Those that know chickens and hatching know that this is not a good momma move She should have stayed put for all of Monday and Tuesday before finally venturing out. She had food within easy reach and had no necessity to vacate so early.
When I was out for my after work rounds, filling the feed troughs and collecting eggs, I first thought momma was out with her 2 babies as I only spotted the remaining 3rd egg in an otherwise empty nest. The rain was falling again, big drops that steadily picked up beat. I located my broody, she was in the mix with all the birds, large and small, clucking away like a happy momma. The only problem, there wasn’t a chick in sight or a baby chirp to be heard. This is when I call in reinforcements, I holler for Midge to join me in the search, and to please bring me a jacket since the rain was starting to really come down and all I had was a long sleeve shirt on (well it wasn’t raining when we got home!). I turned my attention back to the nesting boxes and immediately discovered the cold and lifeless body of a tiny chick. Thinking it was already a loss, I placed it aside so Midge and I could continue to search for the other baby when it suddenly twitched! I began hollering, “it twitched, it twitched! It’s still ALIVE!” as I’m scooping it up and rubbing it, trying to warm and stimulate it. With each second the chick showed the tiniest bit more of life. Eeking out a bit more hope with each faint movement. Now the rain was REALLY coming down, the thunder and lightening were beginning to add to the beat of the rain. So I tucked the baby into my bra and make a mad dash for the house. Leaving Midge out in elements to continue the search for the second chick.
Once inside the Hubs warmed a cloth for me to wrap the babe in. As I stood there holding this itty bitty baby, wrapped in a warm washcloth all in a bundle that fits in the palm of my hand, this miracle started to wriggle a little more and then even more, then the most beautiful thing happened, it chirped, the faintest of sounds, but it was definitely a chirp! The most beautiful sound I have ever heard. A sure sign this baby was coming back to life! Once it starts to chirp and move with a decent amount of strength and fight, I placed it in the incubator (don’t ask) to continue to warm.
All the while, poor Midge was still out in the pouring rain, with the lightening thundering closer and closer. Trying in vain to find the remaining chick. I started out calling her back into the safety of the warm, dry house but instead I ended up rejoining her in the search. There aren’t too many places to look in our chicken yard, they don’t free-range and there are no hiding spots for them to really get into so the search was really just the two of us, soaked, cold and saddened by the realization that we had lost our sweet little butter baby (that’s what we call the little yellow chicks when they are nothing but fluff). I called the search off and dragged us both away.
As much as I prefer to have a broody hatch and raise chicks, as nature intended, this is the risk that is involved. Not all momma’s make the best choices for their babies. I also know I need to make some changes to our set up in order to keep chicks safe. Seramas are the smallest chickens and I have them mixed with my large fowl birds, in the may lay of the storm with all the birds seeking shelter, a chick as small as day old serama chicks are could have easily been trampled and the thought of that is just horrible. Something I don’t soon want to have to relive. So changes there will be.
In the meantime, we do have an incredible to celebrate.
As in, it’s a wonder this chick is alive today.