Babycakes makes her first kill
I just witnessed my little ‘Babycakes’ kill, and begin to devour, a mouse. As she was scratching at some leaf mould in the garden, a mouse suddenly jumped out from under a leaf; she grabbed it by the back of the head, shook it, stomped on it, shook some more, stomped some more, until it was a twitching wet lump. Who knew that chickens were predators? Until this moment, I had not thought of them in those terms. Now, I will have to seriously reconsider whether or not I need a barn cat!
Babycakes is a young chicken that I incubated and raised this spring. She was one of two eggs to hatch–and the only one to survive the first two days–of a batch of 42 eggs (it turned out there were very few fertilized eggs in the clutch). She hatched early, late one Friday night when I was not expecting the eggs to begin until Saturday at the earliest. Needless to say, I was incredibly disappointed in the hatch rate and, at first, resented the work ahead of me for ‘just one chicken’. However, she was a stroppy little creature and I admired her determination to survive from the beginning. I got attached to her quickly; this happens when you have to hand-raise a solitary baby.
When a wee creature spends its first days of life nestled inside your bra keeping warm–thanks to poorly timed power outages–you can’t help but bond with it!
The first couple of months were more or less a solitary confinement situation for her (apart from the time spent down my bra), because I didn’t have any other baby chicken at the time to socialize her with. She spent her formative months in the garage: first in a box and then in a small ‘transition house’. Her only socializing was with me when I came to feed and water her, or just plain talk and pay attention to her. She was a chatty little thing, so often I did more listening than talking.
It wasn’t long before her name just slipped out of my mouth one night while addressing my husband: ‘So, did you check on Babycakes when you closed up the garage?’ This is how animals are named on my farm. I don’t set out to do it, but sometimes it just happens. With a name, Babycakes will likely live out her days on the farm until she dies of old age, or meets some otherwise unpreventable demise.
Once she got big enough to move into the chicken shed with the others, she revealed an independent spirit and maintained a separate existence from the other chickens: she roosted on the watering can instead of the roosts with the others, ran towards my gumboots asking to be picked up whenever I entered the paddock, and generally chirped her little head off throughout the day.
She still roosts on the watering can even though she is now nearly 5 months old, but no longer feels the need to take comfort in my gumboots. She has come into her own.
She is a pretty chicken but very camera shy. I tried to get a nice shot of her a few days ago, and again today with her grand prize in her beak, but she won’t have it. One day when I do get a nicer shot, I will put it up.