(NaturalNews) One of the most precious things about living on a ranch and taking care of animals is getting to witness life unfold right before your very eyes. The miracles of nature are ever-present at my ranch, and they're a limitless source of inspiration.
If you read Natural News, you probably know I raise free-range chickens in order to produce farm-fresh eggs. In the interests of sustainability, we also have one rooster, so some of the eggs are fertile.
This spring, one of the hens managed to find a secret nesting place and lay four eggs. Although we always lock up our chickens at night to keep them safe from owls, raccoons and snakes, this hen managed to hide at her secret nest for an entire month -- long enough to hatch her eggs in total secrecy!
One day I was pleasantly surprised to discover this momma hen had four baby chicks marching around with her, and they looked healthy, too! (See pictures below.)
These are the first baby chicks born on our ranch and raised on our ranch free-range style. I consider it a small milestone for sustainability, knowing that even if the entire economy ceases to function, I can still raise chickens and produce eggs in a sustainable fashion (yes, the world will never run out of grasshoppers, bugs and weeds for chickens to eat).
Here's a picture of this small family feeding on some scratch:
With this "First Family" suddenly springing into existence on the ranch, we decided to let the momma hen take care of her chicks herself. Each day she would take the chicks out for some free-range feeding, teaching them how to scratch the ground and peck at bugs. And each night, well before sundown, she would disappear somewhere on the ranch, hidden away from predators and not making a sound.
During the day, momma hens make clucking sounds to let their baby chicks know where they are, and when they discover food or water sources, their clucking accelerates to a tone of excitement, at which point the baby chicks come running! But at night, they're extremely quiet, making sure predators can't locate them by sound.
This cycle of daytime parenting and nighttime hiding went on for about two weeks until one morning we discovered the momma hen had been attacked and nearly killed by a predator! (Most likely a stray cat.) Somehow she survived the attack, but whatever attacked her had managed to pull out all her tail feathers, quill and all. She was left with a tail stump on her hind end, and she looked to be in a state of shock. Clearly, she had barely survived an attack attempt while defending the lives of her baby chicks.
Here's a picture of the tail feathers now growing back where the "stump" used to be:
At this point we decided to transfer the momma hen and her chicks to a safety crate each evening. For this, we use a large dog crate, stuffed with hay and protected from the elements with some boards. This provided exactly the protection they needed, and now they're safe from predators each night. We let them out each morning, and they free range all day long, returning to the crate on their own each evening.
The baby chicks are growing up rapidly, and they're extremely friendly because they're used to my presence around them each day. As the picture below shows, I can hold these chickens and even pick them up without any problem:
Treating all animals with compassion
BTW, for those of you who haven't raised chickens yet, chickens would never get this close to a cruel chicken farmer. Only kind people who take care of their animals are able to gain the trust of chickens. By their nature, chickens flee from most creatures larger than they are. Being around humans has to be learned from repetitive experiences of trust and safety.
We treat all our animals with compassion -- even the half-crazed geese that go into attack mode any time you approach their egg nest. That's why the goats, chickens, donkeys and dogs on the Health Ranger ranch are all happy creatures.
Plus, they don't have to worry about taxes, debt spending, geopolitics or heavy metals in their food. For the most part, they just enjoy life, eating healthy food and making healthy babies.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.