Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yesterday evening after receiving encouragement and consult from Shelby I removed more than half of the eggs from the Dark Cornish's nest. She had a whopping thirty-one, ten more than the last time I counted just a few days ago. The ones I removed were basically the outer ring, some were nearly cold to the touch and others had clearly been laid very recently. I marked the fifteen that remained so that I will be able to easily tell which ones are new if that number begins to climb again.

I made some very crude efforts to candle some of the eggs I culled. I was able to vaguely make out the air pocket and that was about it. I have since gotten some better information (thanks mom) on the proper procedure and am going to try again, perhaps tonight. If I have any luck I will certainly report back about it.

I am still totally intimidated by the possibility of having chicks as soon as this weekend, but am mostly very excited about the prospect. I have some work to do to get ready for them and for that reason I am hoping they don't hatch until at least Saturday. The barn is enough to keep the full grown flock safe from the dog and wild predators but tiny baby chicks have a few more things to fear, including, but not limited to, roosters and our crazy cat. I have some basic ideas for how to make a semi-temporary room for them in part of the barn but haven't begun on anything.

As I write this I beginning to think I really shouldn't be wasting any time. I sure would hate to find myself with sweet baby chicks and no safe place to put them!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My chicken ladies have gotten really carried away with this broody business. 
What was fun and exciting with one hen is completely overwhelming and intimidateing with the better part of a flock.

We have two broody hens, another who would like to be (I am strongly discouraging her) and many who are needlessly contributing their eggs for hatching.  
One of the broodies is the Cuckoo Maran and seemingly sane. Her clutch of eight or so eggs seems well within her abilities and she has maintained her sweet disposition.  The other is a Dark Cornish, she was the first to go broody and I think it's fair to say she is taking this instinct way too far. She is allowing any and all other hens into her nest to add to the clutch and at last count she had twenty one eggs.  

I know that there is no way she can rotate, and heat that many eggs (not to mention that some of them were laid two or more weeks apart) what I don't know is what I should do about it. I suspect  that some (perhaps most) should be culled but I don't have the foggiest idea where to begin on that. I am not very comfortable at all with the thought of throwing out perfectly viable, partially incubated, eggs.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We have a broody hen! I am so excited about this I can hardly express it. It is a wonderful amazing thing to care for something its whole life and then see it prepare to care for its own young.

She is a Dark Cornish, one of two in our flock, she is not one of our friendlier or prettier birds but she has a very likable quality. The description of her breed in the Murray McMurray Hatchery catalog (from where we have ordered all of our chicks with great satisfaction) says they are "good setters and mothers" obviously I cannot attest to the latter but with the former I certainly agree. She has only left her small clutch of eggs for short periods once or twice a day, since going broody the end of last week. She seems prepared to fiercely protect her precious eggs, even giving me the chicken equivalent of a snap every time I hint at reaching my hand into her nesting box.

In a life of off and on chicken raising something I have never experienced is the natural incubation and hatching of chicks. When I was a kid we had some disastrous experiences with home incubators and as an adult have only purchased baby chicks. I do know, roughly, the process a mother hen goes through to incubate her own eggs but I suspect there is a lot that I have yet to learn.

Saturday, March 27, 2010