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…