Yesterday around 4 pm, Dolly desperately wanted to go outside into the bigger run. I really could not blame her, as I too would be tired of living in a brooder with 8 little chicks. She needed sometime to herself. I obliged.
Out in the run, she was having a fantastic time. She took a dust bath and enjoyed standing on the log with Chocolate shouting out to the world her return. She was having so much fun that she did not want to return. Around 5:30pm, I needed to leave to run an errand and I knew that I would most likely not be back until after they went to bed for the night. I tried to bribe her to return to her chicks. I tried treats, love talk and reaching into the coop without any success. Finally, I decided to just leave her. Meanwhile, things were quiet in the brooder as the babies were all taking a nap.
When we returned, it was after 9pm. Everyone including Dolly was asleep. I locked up the coop and then came inside to spend time with the babies. Everyone was sleeping except for Dottie Speckles. She was having a party at night, like most newborn infants do. She was peeping and eating and drinking and having fun running over her new siblings' backs. Despite her silly antics, no one got upset at her. Finally, she did settle in amongst the downy blankets of chicks and fell asleep.
Last night it poured. We awoke to thunder and lightening and a deluge from the sky. When I went outside to the large coop and run. Dolly was inside the coop looking for her babies. She was calling for them. She seemed upset and kept trying to look underneath the broody twins, Meesha and Autumn for her babies. She was easy to grab. I picked her up. She did not fuss one bit. I returned her to the brooder. It was a sweet little reunion. They were all happy to see each other. Dottie Speckles kept jumping up to pull on Dolly's upper chest feathers.
They say that Mother Hens will let their babies on their own at about 6 weeks. Everyone is now 3 and 1/2 weeks old except for Dottie Speckles. Over the next coming week, I think that I will let Dolly determine what she wants to do. I will continue to give her choices. I can tell that she is torn between freedom and her babies. I wish I could let her know that her chicks will be just fine no matter what.