I should have posted earlier, to describe the terrible demise of my first family of chicks. Well. Peaches’. Five of them hatched. Three were really sturdy and on day two were out on the lawn, learning their mother’s old-fashioned scratch-n-peck form of feeding by watching her and imitating her gestures. So charming. That night I went out after dark and shut the eglu door, assuming the whole family to be snuggled up together in the nesting box. Next morning I went out to release them and out stormed Peaches, but no sturdy babes. I rushed to open the keeper’s door, and found only two teeny, peaky fellows floundering in the wood chippings.
Where were the three strong ones? I searched hopelessly under the roosting bars; in the droppings tray – were they so small they could have got trapped there? No sign. No fluff anywhere. Could a cat have got into the run? Or a stoat or a rat or something able to shrink itself small enough to squeeze through the bars?
To compound my loss, I saw that not only had the two remaining chicks been abandoned prematurely (put your money on the fittest – Peaches knows her Darwin), losing vital body-heat during their very vulnerable early hours of life, but also red mite had invaded the nest, sucking their life-blood. By the end of the day, they were both dead – all curled up and lonely, never having left their nest.
But Peaches didn’t. She was already pecking around outside, making up for three weeks’ starvation and stasis. No indulging of her loss. She was focussed on the future – already ready to try again.