Just 13 days out of the shell, and the gallinaceous octet has doubled in size and character. Their voices have dropped just a bit, from Geiger-counter peeps to squeaky bicycle wheel. They’ve gotten the napping down to a science–15 minutes at a time, in unison. All together now!
Their favorite activity at this age is preening their beautiful and rapidly emerging feathers. (Pretty soon they’re going to be traveling in packs to the mall and asking to borrow the car.) The Barred Rocks are getting kitted out in flamenco gear, while Spalty looks more like a rare hardwood than ever. Meawhile, tiny toenails are being articulated, and a pert fan of tail feathers helps with balance.
All eight are also big fans of Eating. When they wake up from nap, they stagger over to the trough and plunge their heads in mindlessly, insensible to all other stimuli. At these moments, their resemblance to their principal caregiver is impossible to dismiss.
At 1 am on Friday night, I was awakened to what I’ve come to recognize as the “Man Down!” alarm–it sounds a bit like the scoring of the shower scene in Psycho. I turned over in bed, hoping it would stop, but the urgency of the cries was unignorable. I came downstairs to the sight of precocious Jumpy, standing outside the box on the floor, completely disoriented, like Dorothy in Oz. As anticipated, she was the first to consummate her leap to the edge of the box, and, having arrived at the climactic moment, lost her balance and toppled (she’s since learned to balance). Since then Stripèd, Stormy, Lumpy, and One Patch have successfully followed her example (you can see a few of them taking notes in the picture).
While only a handful have achieved the upward hop-jump-flight, all have mastered the wing-assisted downward plunge. It’s a must when you are constantly being scooped up by a 5-year-old and placed on her shoulder. Many choose to escape immediately, but a few, like Stripèd here, occasionally elect to hang out.