Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Nest in Peace

My parents flock of chickens includes a couple of hens, which I believe are cuckoo marans, that really like to be mothers.  They like motherhood so much that they will sit for days on end on a pile of eggs.  Last year, one of the hens managed to hatch several eggs, and then adopted several of the chicks I hatched in the incubator.  This spring, she was trying to sit on her eggs to hatch more chicks, but the other hens kept getting in the nest box with her to lay their eggs.  This was disruptive to her nesting, I'm sure, especially since retrieving the newly laid eggs meant moving her off her nest.  What she needed, of course, was a nursery suite addition to the chicken coop.    A place were she could nest in peace.  

Mom worked up the design, and Jamie and I helped to build it in one long day.  Now that I look at the photos, I'm not sure what took us all day. It really just looks like a simple box made of wood, doesn't it? This may explain why it's taking us so long to build a house!  Well, maybe our expert craftsmanship doesn't translate to photography very well.  I mean, we painted it and everything!  Notice the small white chickens (surely, not eating paint?!) that used to live in my dining room, but have now joined my parents flock.  

To make sure a raccoon or a snake can't get access to the nursery, we used wire mesh with small holes instead of chicken wire.  This wire is stiff, and not as easy to manipulate, but I felt like the nursery was impenetrable once we were finished nailing it on.  

We carried the nest box with the eggs to the nursery addition, and put the mother chicken inside.  I was relieved when she immediately settled down on the eggs since I wasn't sure she would recognize them in a new location.  She is a chicken, after all.  We included a small door that can be opened to the inside of the coop, so that once the babies are mobile, they can find their way out the coop door to the outside.  

Mom sent me this picture today, of the mamma hen with her two new chicks.  It looks to me like she is showing the babies how to find tasty bits in the grass.  They know how to go back to the nursery at night too.  That's one smart mamma!

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