Sunday, May 18, 2014

When being broody isn't a bad thing

Last Sunday night was moving day for some of the flock.  Javier and 14 of our nicest hens moved from the Winter Coop to the Summer Coop.  I liken it to the movement of senior citizens from Florida to Minnesota, without the mini-vans.  The rest of the flock will follow in a few weeks, but right now they are separated because the eggs from the hens that went with Javier are the ones I want to save for hatching.  Since our hands were full of poultry, I have no visual record to display for you, but it goes something like this:  At dusk, as many family members as there are on hand head for the coop.  Javier is pulled off the roost first, and put in a safe place, which in this case was a dog crate.  This time he also got a spur-trim as his spurs have gotten so long we deemed them to be a hazard.  Then, one by one, the hens are removed from the roost and handed off to the hen transporters, who carry them two at a time out to the Summer Coop.  I must add that Kori is traditionally the one who does the roost-removal task.  She is quite good at this, so if she ever moves far away she will have to plan her vacations around this spring and fall activity.  Really.

Javier and his harem enjoy greener pastures

For our first few years of chicken-keeping, our chicks were selected from a catalog, much like seed varieties or a new swimsuit.  This has really become the “normal” way of obtaining chicks.  Hatched in giant incubators in large hatcheries (frequently located in Iowa for some reason), chicks are sent to us through the mail.  The arrival date for the chicks is carefully noted on the calendar and middle of the night runs to the post-office planned.

These days, we are trying to do things a little more traditionally.  I’m not saying that we won’t ever mail-order birds again, but hopefully this won’t be necessary too often.

One of our farm hens has “gone broody”. 

A broody hen… broods.  She sits on the nest all day, all night, with only brief breaks for a bite to eat, a sip of water, a poop.  After a quick strut around the coop, feathers fluffed and clucking importantly, she returns to the nest and settles stoically in with a look of stern concentration.

This Australorp hen takes her work very seriously

In a more natural setting, this hen would find a secluded place before this broody period and deposit an egg there every day until the desired amount has accumulated.  She would then begin her twenty-one day sit-in.  In the confined environment of the coop, the nests provided by me, the farmer, are the only reasonable place.  Trouble is, from the hen’s point of view anyway, the eggs keep going away; removed (or stolen if you will) by me.  This hen has good timing.  I have given her 13 eggs to hatch.

Check back in 21 days folks, we should have some very cute chick pictures to share!

A couple other pictures to share today:

The greenhouse is getting pretty crowed!  And yes, the lettuce is outstanding!

The oats is up!  That hole there is a varmint track (deer).
So that's all for now folks.  This is the most amazingly beautiful day and my "wanna do" list is long.  To those of you who are not in Minnesota on this very fine day, I am truly sorry.  I wish you were here to experience the best Mother Nature has to offer.  The harsh winter is forgiven.

As always, be well.

1 comment:

  1. I remember going to the chicken house with Lyle when we were pretty little to get eggs, and having to reach under hens that might or might not peck. It was more or less our first real-life experience with gambling and after that introduction slot machines just never held much appeal.