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From a Crab's Perspective

by Ann Ulrich Miller

Posted on June 13, 2008 by Web Dreams


Published in the New Mat Top Hat June 2008.

Looks like we're finally getting some good summer weather. May was wetter and colder than I remember from last year. Our garden was put in late, due to the soil being too muddy. And it didn't help that I threw my back out for several days from the rototiller. 

We had a successful hatch on Jackson Run after the fourth broody hen got serious. The spotted Sussex whom I named "Spot" managed to hatch two identical Araucana chicks on April 24. Actually, I discovered several days into her broodiness that Spot was sitting on a light bulb. I snatched that away and placed four fresh eggs out of the refrigerator underneath her. Spot sat for 21 more days, with that entranced look on her face. What a delight it was to discover the two baby chicks from the fertile eggs. 

Spot took good care of her two chicks, but a couple of weeks ago, while my husband and I were away for most the day, one of the chicks vanished. With a sinking heart I knew something had killed it. We didn't want to think it was possible, but we now suspect our cat, Jessica, helped herself to a miniature chicken dinner while we were gone. Jessica had been outside, and she remained outside without coming in to eat the rest of the day. To top that off, Jessica must have had a guilty conscience because she stayed out all night!

When the mother hen appeared to abandon the remaining chick, I took measures to secure the poor little thing in the cat carrier for several days, until the little thing could be better equipped to resist harm. At night I'd let it out to mingle with the other birds in the hen house. Mother Spot ignored her youngster, for the most part. Eventually, we decided to throw caution to the wind and let the little bird out to run with the others. Somehow Spot has reclaimed her maternal instincts and the two can be seen running around together. Little "Suzy Q," as I named her, is as happy as can be to be free again. 

We lost an adult chicken last week to a predator -- our first real loss this year. I was mowing and discovered the pile of feathers in our field. My first guess was a hawk. However, two days later, in the early evening, there was a major commotion in the chicken yard. I stepped outside just in time to see a coyote with a bushy tail take off into the woods from the fenced-in chicken yard. Within minutes the dog was after it, but the coyote naturally got away. 

How helpless and scared it feels to know you have a predator and that it will undoubtedly come back! I debated on whether to keep the birds penned in or inside their house all day. That just wasn't an option. Why have birds if they can't be happy and free range like they are used to doing? The solution was putting a radio up and blaring it into the woods all day long. I used to do that in Colorado, and it worked. So now we have golden oldies disrupting the beautiful silence of our property during daylight hours. I had to sacrifice something to save the birds. So far, so good! 

Now here's the strangest thing I've ever seen. One of my hens dropped an egg outside, next to the pond by their chicken house. I picked it up and thought, "What the heck is this?" The egg was green (Araucana) but it was three times larger and heavier than a normal-sized chicken egg. I took it inside and showed the family. "That's a turkey egg," said my stepson. "Maybe it's from that heron we see," suggested my husband. 

I thought about hatching it in an incubator, but on Sunday morning we broke the humungous egg open, and you'll never guess what was inside! First, the white and the yolk of a normal egg poured out into a bowl. But the -- THEN another fully formed, hard-shelled green egg came out -- and inside of THAT was a normal white and yolk like the other one. 

I never heard of a chicken laying an egg inside an egg! Too weird. Of course, I took pictures, and then wished I had taken a video to put up on You Tube. We all had a good laugh over this, but somewhere outside there's a poor hen with a mighty sore behind.


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