Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hatching Chicks

We got our first chickens just over four years ago. Six sweet little day old chicks. Why I have no pictures of them at that age, I have no idea. Well, except for the fact that I had a active six year old, an even more active 18 month old, was seven months pregnant at the time and taking care of my two year old nephew. Why I thought getting chickens was a good idea at the time I have no idea. My husband certainly thought I was crazy. Anyway, this is the earliest picture I have of our original six chicks. They are about four months old in this picture, not babies at all anymore.

Our original six chicks.
Dear husband that puts up with (most) of my crazy schemes seems to have been converted over the last four years. It might have something to do with the eggs he now has for breakfast almost every morning. Nothing compares to fresh, organic, pastured eggs. I won't get into the nutrition benefits, they are just... yum. Really the chickens are sweet and well, soothing. I love watching them from my desk or going out to just sit and watch them. Which is why we were all devastated when we had a fox attack that left all but two of our chickens dead.

So what to do?  It was too late in the baby chick season to buy from any local sources. Mail order chicks were possible, but pricey on the shipping. And then our local veggie CSA farm offered us fertile eggs to hatch. We don't have an incubator, but one of the chickens that survived is named Broody, because of her tendency to go broody so often. "Broody" is when the hen is sitting on eggs trying to hatch them. Since we had not ever had a rooster, there was no way that she could ever hatch our eggs, but if she went broody, we could put in the fertile eggs and have her hatch those eggs.

First, Broody and her sister Buffy, needed to start laying again. Seems like the fox attack left them a little upset and they stopped laying. After about a week finally they started laying again. I started leaving the eggs they laid in the nesting box, hoping to encourage Broody to do her thing. Very odd, as for four years we tried everything to get her NOT to be broody. It took another couple of weeks, but finally Broody has been sitting on the nest.

I put a call into the farm and just picked up the fertile eggs today. We decided on putting nine eggs in the nest.  (She had been sitting on eight eggs.)

The fertile eggs in the nesting box.

DH grabbed Broody and took her out, while I did the switch. We quickly left and prayed that she would accept the new eggs. Well she took her own sweet time about it. Evidently she decided that since she was out anyway she had time to take a dust bath, do some grooming, get a drink and something to eat.

Broody, mom, er... adoptive mom to be. (Buffy is on the right)
But finally, she returned to her nesting box and is sitting on the eggs again! In what promises to be a very long three weeks, I hope to be posting pictures of cute little baby chicks!

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