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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dauphin and Idgie become mothers.

Dauphin and Imogen are a rare variety of bantam called Showgirls. The Showgirl variety has its roots in the Silkie, a bantam breed originating in Japan. Silkies are known for their innate mothering skills.
The other lesser part of the breed is a Turken, which originates in Transylvania.
To me this seems like a marriage between a delicate Asian princess and a hearty Romanian peasant woman.

The idea of a hybrid such as this peaks your interest but, in the end sounds too freaky to try...or in this case, fly.

Much to everyone's surprise... they can range the gamut from dragon looking beasts to a chicken fairy princess.

But when it works out, it works out well.

Dauphin is the prettier of the two. Her big wet eyes and soft furry fluff are as dark as her skin.
Imogen, "Idgie" for short, looked like a pink skinned q-tip when she hatched. You'd think with her powder white fluff she would avoid the dirtier parts of the yard. No such luck. She's a farm girl's chicken through and through. She likes to be wherever you are.

Born in the same hatch last year, they were sisters first, chickens second. It was no surprise when they went broody together, both in the same coop area. When two new chicks were introduced to the coop via a gift from my darling husband we hoped they would each adopt one.

I was very surprised when only Dauphin took an interest. Idgie just sat, and pecked at the chicks as they walked by. She wasn't ready.

Even when Idgie was kicked out of her nest by a flock mate, she refused to leave the coop. In contrast, Dauphin left the warming pen each day with her new chicks to go out and explore the world.

Idgie is a stubborn chicken and she refused to be bullied even by Big Lola who resorted to sitting on top of her for days on end. But would poor, sullen Idgie ever find her purpose?

The answer came when my BBC partner and good friend Kristi gifted me with a few baby Blue Orpingtons. I was ecstatic! With no roosters on our urban farm, this might be the closest Idgie would come to being a mother this season.

It's for good reason that I only allow the Silkies to be around new chicks. My chickens have been hand raised and fed all their lives, but my Silkie girls are especially smart and the most docile. After a week long period under the heat lamp, I introduced the chicks to Idgie...

I don't pretend that humans always have the capacity to instantly and without warning take on a brood of babies, no questions asked. At least humans get a 9-month gestational warmup. Idgie needed no time, just her instinct. She has free roam of all the yard including my gardens, with six little fledglings toddling along after her...imprinting her instantly, shading under her wings. Both Dauphin and Idgie keep their tiny chicks close and give out multiple lessons on how to dig for bugs, scratch through the wet leaves, and pick aphids off the honeysuckle.

There is one other noticeable difference I've seen in the new moms. Neither chicken runs from the scampering three pound chihuahua anymore. They both pull up their skirts of fluff and charge like bears. It's something to be seen.

I wish I could illicit some Zen message from that, or some clumsy metaphor for motherhood. I guess I'd prefer to suppose that nature doesn't need my narration.

It exists beautifully all on it's own.

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