Farm Adventures: Spring 2016

It’s been an incredibly stressful couple of weeks around here– the kind of weeks where I feel like I’m just barely keeping things together– and in the middle of all of it I decided to do what any sane, rational person does at a time like this…

Get more chickens.


Oh, and also bees. Because, things just don’t feel right around here if I’m not chasing (or being dragged by) escaped donkeys, or bathing chickens in the kitchen sink, or nursing a bee sting to the jugular, right?

But let’s start with the chickens. Well, eggs, actually.

Right now my flock consists of 7 Black Sex-Link Chickens and 1 Jersey Giant (plus the two guineas.) The Jersey Giant is from my original flock, and she’s gone broody several times in the Spring/Summer for the last two years. In fact, two years ago when she went broody I decided to get some guinea eggs for her to hatch, (and of course she stopped wanting to sit on eggs two days before they arrived.) Then there was a whole other series of drama regarding those eggs that a friend was hatching, and of those 12 eggs I got one guinea keet, which later died because I didn’t have it in the right kind of pen.)

All this to say, there’s a fair amount of drama around “getting more chickens” but that Jersey Giant went broody again this spring, and in the middle of everything else I was like “You know what I should do? I should get some fertilized eggs for her to hatch!” because apparently I’m insane. 

I realized that I’d probably gone ’round-the-bend about 5 seconds after clicking the “place order” button on 9 fertilized eggs of various breeds, but at that point it was too late. I’m now committed to this crazy endeavor.

So. Instead of dwelling on my crazy, I built a thing…


This is a brood box built entirely out of scrap wood I had laying around the shop. The brood box will go inside the coop, and the broody chicken can settle on a nest in there (with her own food and water), hopefully raise some chicks, and it will give them a safe place to hang out while the rest of the flock gets used to them. (The chickens were remarkably good with the baby guineas last fall, so I have high hopes for this… if we ever get to the point of having actual chicks.)


The whole thing is covered with 1/4″ wire mesh (a much better option than the old dog crate which ended poorly for my guinea keet) with an open top that I can put a piece of plywood or screening over to keep the other chickens out.


So, the first test was to move the broody chicken in to her new home and hope that she stayed broody and accepted the new nest (and fake eggs I put in it to entice her.) I moved her in at night, and the first part of what I’ve been calling my “broody chicken experiment” seems to have worked…


Now for the eggs. I’ve been obsessively tracking the package for the last two days, and it finally arrived at my house today…


Except it’s missing 3 eggs. (Of course it is.)

Those three eggs are coming from a different location and haven’t shipped yet, apparently, so I’m storing these until they get here… which means another round of obsessively tracking a carton of eggs through the US Postal System.

The new chickens are:

  • 3 Barred Plymouth Rock
  • 3 Heritage Dominique
  • 2 Bearded Easter Eggers
  • 1 Black Copper Marans

That’s assuming they all hatch. Also– while it’s statistically unlikely– they could also all be roosters. So that’s a thing.

There is actually a lot that could go wrong here. My broody may decide she’s over sitting on eggs again before the new eggs get here. They may not hatch at all. She may hatch them and then abandon/kill them (it happens), she may not abandon/kill them but they may die like the guinea keets if she’s not a good mom, and, yeah, they could all be roosters.

On the other hand… I’ll be hatching eggs for breeds of chickens I can’t get locally right now AND they’ll be raised by mom, so no 8 weeks living with chickens in the house (which is already a complete shitshow with the kitchen torn up), easier integration into the flock, and free-range babies which I think is a far better and healthier way for chicks to be raised. And it’s good to keep bringing new birds into the flock, which I didn’t do last year. Plus, they sure will lay some pretty eggs.


So. Adventures. It will be 20ish days until they hatch so the real adventure won’t begin until mid-May.

And, that’s not the only only one… I’m also patiently (okay, not at all patiently) awaiting news of my two new bee packages, which were supposed to be here this week.

I’ve been painting hive parts and getting the location set up for the new hives…


The two new hives will have a similar setup to the ones I started last year. I like putting two hives on a pallet covered with scrap plywood to keep the weeds down around it, and keep the hives up off the moisture (or snow) on the ground.)


We’re about ready to roll with these as soon as the bees get here. Then there will be a couple of intense weeks with getting the new packages settled in and hoping they take, just like last year.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a whole lot of work going on in the garden (prepping for the greenhouse) AND in the kitchen (which I’m hoping will be at least half-functional again in the next two weeks.) In the meantime, it sure is starting to look brighter…


13 Responses

  1. Oh my, it is getting exciting watching all this unfold now Kit. I feel inspired. My Mum has chickens and because she is a bit of a slapdash and fly by the seat of your pants kind of person she hasn’t built a chicken house (Canterbury New Zealand so weather is OK it’s a seldom snows kind place). Her chicken lay all over so she has to float test all the eggs when she finds them (very scary when she give you eggs believe me) and also she has had finds of massive old nests abandoned and quite a few babies. So cute and so much fun for her. Good luck with the next Generation. And that Kitchen is starting to look much imporoved, Goodbye Pine!

  2. That is a sweet little broody house, nice job!!
    Broody Mama will integrate those chicks for you.
    Best of cLuck to yas!

    I just integrated my 4 week old chicks(some hatched in incubator here, some purchased) into the main flock yesterday. Chicks have been living in coop since 1 week old with their heating pad. Coop is split with temp wire wall with tiny chick doors in it so chicks can go in and out of their safe place and learn to mingle with the flock. Easiest integration I’ve ever done, no territory drama/injury/death…and no stink and dust in the house!

  3. I second what Cindy said. I get whiny when I have to do more than two loads of laundry and cook in the same night. I’m amazed by all you do. You’re such an inspiration!

  4. In case you ever want to try this method….we have had very good success with buying chicks from a hatchery and putting them directly under a broody hen. You get exactly what you want, the hen thinks she has hatched out a brood and raises them as her own and the chicks get to be raised with a mom. Win-win for everyone.

    We generally get the chicks first thing in the morning, we get them fed and watered and they have the whole day to get used to being alive. When it is dark, we sneak in and put them under the hen. We have given one hen as many as 25 chicks and it has worked every time.

    I hope your hen is happy with her eggs and you and you get a whole brood of lovely chicks. Good luck with the bees too, I have two nucs coming in June and I hope the new bees can survive on my cold, windy hill.

    I built my own house a few years ago and it is about 99% finished. It still needs trim work, but I had to move into it as-is and then needed to concentrate on some other projects that got neglected while building. Now, i am trying to find the ambition to finally finish the job. Maybe I will borrow a bit of your boundless energy to get me started:)

  5. Hello! I’m also a blogger and always looking to build community with other bloggers as I’ve not done much. I blog about art/lifestyle and diy mostly. I’m searching for art and DIY blogs that I enjoy.

    Anyway, do you have any sort of advice for bloggers trying to get back into the game and gain community? I know you’ve got a lot going on here and are probably very busy keeping it up (I don’t blog nearly often enough.. ugh). I’m also very open to having coffee or tea and travel a lot for business (I’m also an artist and designer).

    I’ve also heard of bloggers promoting content or work like sites that offer perks for social media status, communities for bloggers, blog listings like bloglovin’, as well as sites where you can actually earn money and promotional opportunities for content like Advowire ( Do you use any of these sites to promote content or collaborate with other bloggers? Do you know of other sites/resources you’d like to reccomend?

    So it’s very nice to meet you, yes this is long and I apologize. Hope to hear from you. Thank you for reading. <3

  6. Hi Kit,
    Fantastic doors with lite over the top – so important to have natural light in a space.
    Good luck with your broody hen. They are such funny creatures. A friend in Maleny checked on his hens one night and noticed a large snake hanging down right beside the roosting hens. He carefully slid the hens sideways out of the way along the roosting branch so he could race to the house and bring back a shepherd’s hook to loop the snake out of the hen house Hilton.
    When he returned a few minutes later they had made their way back and were huddled together directly under the swaying snake… Completely oblivious of its presence and intent.
    All ended well. Whenever we stay with them I always check for snakes before collecting the eggs.
    We also have bees and find them fascinating.
    Regards Janine in BC Canada

  7. Yep…it’s that busy busy time of year when over night it seems the weather turns around and much needs to be done in a short time, not only prepping for your greenhouse but getting your garden ready for planting. If I remember right you were as well thinking of doing something with the back field this year. I transplanted a Catalpa tree, planted a Macintosh Apple which both are doing fine and removed five mature overgrown very messy Walnut trees. I do want to add another Honey Crisp Apple and Raspberry bushes, and Rhubarb. It dose look like your coming along on the kitchen well and no-doubt after not caring much for the cabin knotty pine ceiling it will indeed be totally different, light bright open and airy ( pretty sure airy is a word) with natural light and great views out back.
    Looking forward to hearing how the broody hen and new chick varieties ( fertilized mail order eggs ) turn out. My son thinks I should have chickens and offered to take care of them if I went anywhere for any length of time (38 mi. round trip for him) and a 200′ fence would need to be built and plate’s plenty full with projects and priorities so for right now the only hens and chicks I’m raising are the ones in the flower garden and a few pathways.

  8. so, super dumb question, but when you say you’ll be “storing” the 6 eggs until the last 3 arrive, i’m assuming that means in an incubator? it’s giving me anxiety seeing them sitting in an egg crate like they just came out of the fridge! can’t wait to see updates on the eggs & broody hen! cool enclosure. and the kitchen is looking so good now that it’s lighter. amazing what a difference a small change can make.

  9. Whatever you did to the kitchen looks incredible. Looks like an entirely different space.

    Good luck on your chickens. That’s always an adventure, isn’t it?

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