[Part 1 is here. Also, I apologize for the suspense. I got more than a few worried emails today! I didn't mean to make anyone fret, and as you will see...well, read on....]
When we got the three chicks home, I put them in our brooder under a heat lamp while we waited for it to get good and dark. They happily filled up on food and water after their little journey, as I went out to verify which nest box Gladys was occupying for the night.
A few hours later, I walked out to do the deed. Gathering the chicks back into their traveling box, I unlocked the back of our coop--the door we usually use to collect eggs--lifted up Glady's rear end, and quickly stuffed in the babies. They peeped unhappily as I closed the door and stepped away.
Walking back to the house, I was convinced I had sent them to their deaths. "Should I go peek in on them?" I asked Sweet Husband several times as we laid in bed.
"No, just leave them alone," he replied.
"One little look?"
"You're not going to sleep at all tonight, are you?" Not needing or wanting an answer, he rolled over, put a pillow over the top of his head, and was quickly out cold.
I set an alarm for six, but I was awake by five. I made myself a cup of coffee while I waited for the sun to come up. As I walked though the garden at first light, in my pajamas with a sweater hastily thrown on to keep warm, I muttered to the pink and grey sky, "Please don't be dead. Please don't be dead. Please don't be dead."
Bonnie and Tori looked surprised to see me so early, but were happy to get out of my way for some early breakfast. Once all the other girls were outside, I braced myself and looked inside the coop.
There was Gladys, puffed up and ready to fight me to the death if need be, and--while I couldn't see them--from underneath her I could hear tiny peeps, meaning that at least one of the chicks had made it. After doing a little happy dance, I went and got the new mama some food and water.
Near as I could tell--I tried not to bother her too much--Gladys spent all day Sunday sitting right there with the chicks underneath her. By Monday afternoon however, mama and babies were out and about in the coop. As I saw each chick for the first time, I greeted her by name.
And well done Gladys! I know she's just acting on instinct and hormones, but I'm so very proud of my clever girl. While I know the babes are still fragile, at this point they're in such good hands that my plan is just to sit back and watch them grow.