Lately we have discovered three hens making their appearance with clutches of chickens. Surrounding the poultry yards and shed there are plenty of shrubs that make ideal hiding spots for broody hens to sit on their clutches of eggs without being disturbed. The girls are getting crafty, realizing that they will be turfed out if they show signs of going broody in the laying nests.
If you are wondering why we don't notice the hens missing, well, we have lots of free ranging hens and if they don't return to the shed at locking up time each evening, they just get left out.
It's always surprising and exciting to find a new clutch of chickens though. It's also surprising that predators (Mr Fox) doesn't get them.
If you have your own hens you will probably notice how they all like to lay in the same one or two nests. Visit the hen house during the morning and we will see queues lining up to lay in just two of the many nests in their shed. They seem to be crossing their legs, squawking at the others to "Hurry up, this egg is going to pop out of me at any minute." In some of the nests there are three hens jostling for positions.
Last week Brian was given this old cupboard so he made some modifications to it and it's the perfect answer to the problems. The girls have taken well to it and are spreading themselves out and enjoying their privacy. The egg numbers have increased too as we can easily find them all now.
There was some stress though. When Brian put the eggs into the incubator we both forgot to write down the date! Twenty one days from beginning of incubating - to hatching. We thought they were due to hatch on Monday, but nothing was happening and the tension was building. Thankfully, they did start to hatch yesterday (one day later) and the percentage was highest we have ever achieved. It could have been a disaster though as the humidity levels need to be raised at exactly the correct amount of days before hatching. Phew, such a relief.
Now here is where the story gets interesting. Brian allowed three hens in the hen house to go broody, each one sitting on a golf ball. They have been waiting patiently for their "eggs" to hatch for a couple of weeks.
There will be plenty of organic chicken in our diet again this year and no need to buy from, or support, that dubious meat chicken industry.
The roosters will be for the table, the hens will become our future layers and a few will be sold to local chicken keepers. The demand is growing for Brian's lovely hens that are a cross breed from Cornish Game and Australorp with a couple of other breeds crossed in there over the years. They lay lovely eggs, and for the table they are superbly chunky with lots of breast meat.
Apologies for the poor quality of the photos as I tried to capture as it was all happening.
Isn't it lovely to have new life on the farm? I can never tire of it.
Cheers and I wish for you the happiest of days gaining pleasure from the simple things.
**Please note** The video of the hens accepting the chicks is not playing for me but I don't know if it is just my computer. I hope it will work for you, it's so cute. :)