Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother Hen Hatches Her Nest

I can't believe that an entire month has passed since I last wrote. Where has the time gone? Most of it has been spent caring for our animals and restocking in preparation for upcoming shows and shops. Sean is working steadily for clients; replacing roofing, repairing clapboard, painting, repairing drywall. He's also been busy at home. Besides his regular chores, Sean finished painting out our kitchen cupboards and furnishings and installed our daughter, Caitlin's new kitchen sink and counter top. I have posted images on our FACEBOOK PAGE and if you are not already following us there, please join us!

Rather than recap all the happenings for the past month, I'll start with some fresh news: Baby Chicks!

Several of our feathered females are broody. Currently, we have duck Chapelle sitting on a nest of 9 turkey eggs and a dozen of her own Muscovie eggs inside Jasmine's stall. Frances is sitting on a nest of a dozen goose eggs inside a dog crate within the duck and goose enclosure. My favorite hen turkey, Lydia, is sharing a nest with another hen. Between them, they are sitting on over 2 dozen eggs under our rabbit hutch. Priscilla is sitting on a nest of turkey eggs inside the chicken yard. And, our hen, Maggie has chosen to lay her turkey eggs up in the rafters of the chicken coop. We are excited for all the chicks, goslings, and turkey poults to hatch.

Someday, we might invest in an incubator for better control of hatching, but for now, our chicks are hatched naturally, which has its pros and cons, like everything else. In the Pro column is that even with nights still dipping into the 30's and below, we don't worry about the temperature of the eggs. The mothers are perfectly suited to regulate the proper temperature for their nests. We don't fuss with turning the eggs or measuring for proper humidity. In fact, mostly, we leave them alone as much as possible. The Con side includes predator attacks on either the mother, the eggs, or both. About a month ago, in the middle of the night, we had a fox take a mother hen from a nest she made in the pig stall that had only about a week left before hatching. It was heart-breaking to lose the hen and and all the would-be chicks. Once in a while, a Mother hen gets tired of sitting on her nest and leaves it before the chicks hatch. Sometimes, the chicks don't hatch all at once and get trampled by their siblings or don't get warmed up fast enough and die. Hatching with an incubator is not danger-free nor stress-free. Power outages happen. Spikes in temperature or drops in humidity can all effect hatching. We just do the best we can with what we have. It is all anyone can do. Thankfully, most of the time, things go well and the result is fluffy, chirping, healthy chicks. ♥

Our first nest to hatch was the only hen laying in an approved nesting area, an actual nesting box. Momma hen hatched 6 eggs without our assistance and another with a little help from her friends. (See video)

We're trying to get back into the habit of writing more frequently, but Spring adds a lot of work on the homestead. Right now, we are prepping for gardens and CSA Shares. We'll post more later! Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. I hope you have a great day! ~Sean and Sonja ♥