Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ladybug and Chicken Studies

Samantha recently took interest in the dead Ladybugs around the house, as well as the recently hatched chicken eggs, so we have been studying those alongside our weather activities. 

A few weeks ago, I ordered ladybugs to go in Samantha's Ladybug Land we got her for Christmas. She was so excited when they came in. It definitely has been an interesting learning experience, seeing the life cycle, because there is a lot I didn't know! But they are kind of boring to be honest, not quite as fun as the butterflies we did when Sam was 3. They had all sorts if interesting behaviors, from eating to the way they made their cocoon. But the ladybugs, not much to say about them. They start out as eggs. Turn into larvae. Crawl around and eat. Sit still for days. Shell hardens. They get darker as time goes, from yellow to red.

We have also been following our chickens since conception. No joke! We even got to see the Rooster fertilizing the eggs! Then the chicken laid her eggs, sat on them, and sat on them, and sat on them for what seemed like forever. After the 21 days, which is how long they are supposed to take to hatch, I got ready to throw the eggs out. Good thing I didn't, because on day 24ish, wish I would have kept better track...they began hatching! There was 8 eggs. 7 fertilized. 5 hatched. 1 died after the first day. (We had a huge storm the night they hatched.) Another one died a few days ago, not sure why. We found it laying in the front yard, physically unharmed, but dead. And there are still 3 living. All hens. :) 

Sam has seen and learned so much about their behavior, from mating, to the Rooster guarding the female, to seeing the chickens hatch, seeing a chicken embryo that wasn't fully formed, dealing with the death of some of the baby chicks, watching them follow their instincts, such as how to get food and water, to follow their Mama, and what to rely on her for, such as protection and warmth.
Unfortunately, as I was typing this post, over a period of a few days, my Husband called and told me that our Mother Hen had died. They were all sitting in the driveway and my Husband thought they had all moved, but they hadn't. He backed over the Mother Hen. :/ He was pretty upset, as was I. I cried. I Loved that Hen. And that Rooster Loved that Hen. You could tell by his behavior before and after her death. Jessie burried the hen. And we left the chicks alone, thinking the Rooster would care for them, or maybe he would take them to one of the many other Hens on the other side of the property and they could join in with her chicks. I went inside to wake Sam up from her nap and tell her. She took it alright. When we went back outside to check on them though, they were wondering around chirping loudly, and the Rooster was gone. So we knew we had to take them in. It took forever to catch them. They were terrified. But we finally got all 3 of them in a box and took them inside. We fed and watered them and put them in the bathroom over night. It is like having a newborn baby, waking us up every few hours. I finally figured out what makes them chirp, and I can usually get them what they need pretty quickly. Food. Water. Clean newspaper. Lights Out, or More Blankets. Sometimes they just want attention. Sam has been a huge help! Getting them food and water, playing with them, and keeping the cat away from the bathroom door. She has already learned so much about caring for them. We feed them only what they ate as free range chickens, so she gets to see them eating bugs, worms, grass, weeds, etc. And she sees what their behavior is like without a Mama. Huddling together at night for warmth. Playing in their pen we made them. Etc. I am not sure what the next step is. I know they will get big in the next few weeks. We will move them down to the basement then, and eventually outside. I am not sure if we will make them a coop or let them free with the others. I would like for them to nest on our property again and also be able to collect their eggs. But I want them to be free to roam as they please. So we may just put out some hay for them and set up a nesting area in hopes they will meet here. I think the reason the other chickens stay on our property is because we scrape out scraps beside the porch. So maybe they will too.

Here are some pics. They are a little out of order and there aren't many. (I have a ton.) But Blogger does not want to cooperate right now.

Sitting On Her Eggs

Newly Hatched Baby Chick

Following Mama 
Eating With Mama
We Love These Baby Chicks
The Night We Brought Them Inside
Dust Bathing During Outside Time

This is what they do if you play classical music or whistle. 
They think Sam and I are their Momma, so they Love to cuddle. 

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