In fitting fashion, the mother hen sitting eggs decided to take her newly-hatched brood out for Mother's Day Brunch, and so I came upon her sitting rather awkwardly in the middle of the Lower Lot. Closer inspection revealed she was sitting so oddly because 8 little chicks were attempting to hide beneath her, and she was trying valiantly to cover them all.
As soon as I got within reach, she flew into action, attacking me and sending the chicks running in all directions. With each attack she tried to push me back in one direction, and jostle the chicks towards the cover of the wooded part of the lot. Not that the wooded part is navigable for humans, which is just what she wanted - rather, it is overgrown with brambles (read PRICKERS) and vines, and fallen trees, and all manner of other crap to make it a painful and tedious place to be hunting chicks.
Nothing like this EVER happens when I have free time to spare, and as usual I was trying to get to work, but not before I FINALLY managed to return Mother Hen and all 8 chicks to the comfort of the Hayport. Let's hope they stay for a while....
Drama aside, we have found hen-hatched and hen-raised chicks to be far superior to mail-order. Not only is there no need for heat lamps, brooders, (not to mention cleaning all that) space in the house/garage/barn, and frequent need to check for blocked vents (chicks, not buildings) but they are healthier and most importantly, stealthier. Mother Hen teaches them to hide in the bushes during the day (thus avoiding the hawks) and they all follow her to roost each night.
With 4-H behind us, we no longer need "pure-breed" chickens, so mutts do us just fine!