Making babies

For about three years now, we have kept chickens in our backyard.  Right now we have six hens; two Barred Rocks (my favorites), two Rhode Island Reds & two Easter Eggers.  We love those girls.  They are easy to care for & fun to have around.  And the eggs are yum!

Our first chickens came from a local farmer; day old un-sexed chicks who turned out to be a mess of useless roosters.  Next batch, we ordered from a hatchery.  It was nice to get sexed chicks but I never felt good about ordering from a hatchery.  I would rather keep it local.

Sweet as they are, our hens are not pets.  They are more like employees.  We need to replace them every few years to keep a steady egg supply.  I don’t want to order from a hatchery again, so we decided to try to make our own babies.  In December, we bought a young Barred Rock rooster from a farmer friend.  We named him Boss & he is a very nice rooster.

Not long after Boss moved in, I remembered why I hate roosters.  He begins crowing at about 4am.  And he doesn’t stop crowing til the sun goes down.  Actually, he even spouts off in the middle of the night.  Seriously.  This guy is so loud & annoying.  Our neighbors now hate us.  Some passive-aggressive neighbor even anonymously placed a list of Tips for Quieting a Noisy Rooster on my car one day.  I feel like such a jerk.  But we need Boss right now.

Boss has done his job well.  He is pretty much always on top of a hen.  When the weather turned warm, we stopped gathering eggs & hoped that one of the hens would go broody.  We waited.  And waited.  And the eggs piled up.  And nothing.  Those dumb birds just kept laying & walking away.  I suspect that the instinct has been bred right out of these poor hatchery hens.

Okay, on to plan B.  We bought an incubator & studied up on hatching eggs.  We gathered 25 eggs & started them on March 26th.  A week later, we candled the eggs to see if anyone was growing.  Our hope was that half would be good eggs.  Surprisingly, we only had three duds!  Twenty-two good eggs.  At two weeks, we candled again.  We still had twenty-two good eggs; could even see the little beans moving about inside.  How exciting!

Now we are at day eighteen.  We have stopped turning the eggs & raised the humidity a bit.  We hope to see baby peeps in just a few more days.  I wonder how many will hatch??  We are kind of freaking out with anticipation.  Okay, maybe it’s just me that’s freaking out.  We all know how I love babies!

~K

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