Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Arrivals

I went out to the chicken coop yesterday, and this little fella, (that's a generic use of fella, I can't sex chicks) greeted me. I looked under Mom, and there was another egg just starting. By last night there were was a golden chick too. I went out to take a picture this morning, but the battery died. I'll update with another pic when the battery is recharged. ETA: Here she is. (I'm just hoping she's a she. She looks like a she to me right now.) What a beautiful color she is. I wonder what color she'll end up.

I always thought that hatching chicks was easier with a broody hen than with an incubator. They do all the work, right? Now I'm not so sure. The drama!

I have two broody hens. Broody just means that their hormones tell them to quit laying eggs and sit (brood) on them instead. I don't know how to break them of that, and although I didn't really want more chickens, I gave each of them two eggs. (I know, how could I not want more chickens! Have you seen the price of chicken feed (again I ask why is it feed? Dog food, cat food, but chicken feed? Why? German makes a distinction between humans and animals eating. Humans essen, but animals fressen. Maybe a holdover from that? Hmmm? Sorry for this linguistic break in the middle of the story. ) these days? It has almost doubled. During the summer it isn't as bad. I don't have to feed much because they supplement with grass and bugs and such. Feeding them through the winter is another story!)

About a week ago, I noticed that one of the hens was off the nest for some time. I went out to the coop, and now the eggs were cool, and there were two more. So she was off the nest long enough for two other hens to sneak in and lay eggs. Crap! Of course I hadn't marked the two she was brooding, so now I had no way of knowing which two were partially developed. Thinking she had abandoned the nest, or at least wasn't doing a very good job of it, I put the four eggs under the other hen, and left some wooden eggs for the other flighty hen.

I don't know if the partially developed eggs are still viable. They may have gotten too cold that one day she was off the nest. I know at least one of them died, I think it got stepped on and the shell broke. Or it was starting to pip and something happened. Sorry to be so graphic, but there was a little beak where the shell had broken away. Poor baby.

Meanwhile, the hen went back on the nest and has been good about staying on. But now the other hen has two chicks, one egg that, if still viable, would be hatching soon too, but also two eggs that are only about one week into development. Again, crap! She will abandon the nest to take care of the chicks that hatched. So I took the eggs from her, and put them under the other hen. If the one egg does hatch soon, I will steal that chick and give it to the hen with chicks already, in the hopes that the other hen will stay on the nest and hatch out the other two.

That's my plan, anyway. The hens might have other ideas, and both abandon the nests and fight over the two chicks. Who knows.

Oh, and here's the sky last night.


Olga said...

The drama! It's like the show "Bored Hen-Wives."

LostInCO said...

Oh my! How complicated things got w/ the two broody hens! The chicks are adorable! Love little peeps. And the sunset! WOW! Beautiful.

Turtle said...

oh poor baby beaked egg. Such is life though, especially on a farm. We had a horse abort once and i remember having to go to the barn and help out. The foal had been fairly far along and as sad as everything was the baby was actually very beautiful. I still remember it seemed as if it had been sculpted out of clay. How is mama hen doing with the wooden eggs?

Cinnamin said...

Beautiful color on that golden chick!

I so much enjoy your posts, Annie. Thank you for sharing these little moments with us!