Friday, July 24, 2015

Long awaited, Finally This Summer, Always worth the wait

Saturday, July 18th, I went into the coop, there I found an egg shell, Mr. Bootsie following me in was checking the nest also, words from the farm assistant, "Broken egg, not again."  My response was, "No, not again.  This shell has been opened by a chick."  I had already put some starter grain close to the Little Black Hen, so she could eat the grain.  After setting, they are so weak and need something to build up their strength.  You ask why is it difficult to sit on eggs and hatch them.  These hens, when setting, go into a trance and hardly leave the nest.  They eat very little and this takes a toll on them.

I went to prepare the chicken water and place it close so the baby chick could get a drink.  At this time all the proof I had was the shell and I knew it looked as something one had come out of it.  This gets Mr. Wonderful off the hook, as now I know he is not shooting blanks.  I was not sure as to how committed the other Little Black Hen was to setting on the nest when we were away from the coop.  She took some morning dusting breaks which seemed entirely too long to me.  This is the reason I allowed this hen to stay in the nest she had created and hatch the eggs.

It was time for me to continue my chores.  So off I went to make the grain bowls for the goats.  Mr. Bootsie comes for the coop exclaiming, "There are two babies and more eggs under her."  He is quite excited as he was the first one to see the baby chicks.  I decided to see if I could establish whose eggs had hatched.  I found the whole shell from one of the olive eggs, which we hatched last spring.  This will mean if this is a hen, her egg will be much darker in olive color as this is a second generation.  As she collected her eggs for the nest I have no idea as to what may be in this hatch.  This is one time the hen has out smarted me.

We have never worked with babies on the floor of the coop.  I have heard when the rooster is in the coop there could be problems or not.  Sometimes they protect their babies from the hens and other times the responsibility is totally on the momma hen.  I have all of the brooders close by if this is the direction we need to take.  I just am not sure how the Little Black Hen will react to being enclosed in a brooder and I do not want her to dessert the little ones she has worked so hard to produce.

This will be a learning experience for us, but each and every hatching has been a lesson in one way or another.  The little black hen's mother, Aurora was a wonderful momma hen and no one, not even me was able to get near her babies.  She was the smallest hen in the coop, however, when she had babies her size did not matter, the other hens kept their distance.  She would fly up and land on their backs if they bothered her little ones.  We did keep her in the brooder, only when the chicks were out getting sun, the other hens came to see what was going on.  If they came within two feet they had better look out because little Aurora was going to show them they should keep a distance.  I hope some of Aurora's mothering skills has passed on to her girls.  These girls came from eggs laid by Aurora, so only time will tell if this hen will be a good momma hen.

Monday, morning there was not a chick to be found, except the little one who did not make it through the night.  I was ready to break up the nest and then I heard the crunch of an egg, one more was coming.  By the end of the day there were 2 new baby chicks, they were struggling on the floor of the coop and I knew I needed to make a decision.  Wednesday morning there are 3 babies, Momma hen decided to go out and stretch her legs, only to be attack by the dame of the coop.  She ran back in checking on her chicks.

Mr. Bootsie showed up about the same time and I made my decision.  She is going into the brooder, the chicks can move about and we do not have to worry about snakes or the other hens attacking them.  I would find a little peace with this.  You know I always give him the worst job, he reached down and collected momma hen.  Walked over to the brooder, I began to collect the baby chicks and found only 2,  Mr. Bootsie had one baby, finally all together once again.  We knew it was time to get the eggs and see if Momma Hen would take them back, Mr. Bootsie candled all of them and there are 6 more possible chicks.
As Mr. Bootsie put the eggs in front of Momma Hen she pecked him each time and then rolled each egg back into the nest.  There she was setting on the 6 eggs and 3 little chicks hidden in her feathers.  I as not sure she feels as safe in her new home as I feel she is.

I had just about given up on having any chicks this year, but now there are 3 and maybe more.  All of the eggs came from my olive egg laying girls and the  Welsummer rooster.   Excited, yes,  there are babies on the farm.  Life goes on!!!!