Our elder chickens are forsaking their new home for nights spent under the stars. This has been working out all right when they are actually stars overhead, but when it rains, we have a problem. I discovered this one rainy morning when I went out to feed them and found that one of them slept outside by the feed bin. It was too cold and wet to even squawk when I picked it up, but I took it to the brooder with an almost equally wet buddy and placed them both in a box under the heat lamp. They napped in the warmth until they felt better. By the time everything was settled down, the insides of my rubber boots were so filled with rain that I made a little splash with every step. The next evening, all the chickens bedded down by their feeders outside, and I saw lightning in the West, so I carried them all into their shelter. It was a dramatic time to be outside, trying to beat an approaching storm. If I had been doing something other than carrying around a bunch of sleepy chickens, I would have felt quite archetypal and heroic.
The little yellow chicks are growing up and sprouting little white feathers on their wings. One chick has a few black feathers on its shoulder. I have inspected these several times to be sure they look healthy, and they do. The poor chick is almost getting used to being lifted and fingered. This evening, it peeped tragically at first, then calmed down so much that it actually caught a mosquito in mid air while I held it.
We have decided that we cannot keep the ducks over the winter, and we will likely butcher them within a couple weeks. Our decision made my daughter cry. We are hoping to raise more ducks next year, when we have spent some time planning how we will take care of them. I will miss them. I had no idea they were so fun.