Her First Peep

A few weeks back one of our hens went broody. A year ago I got my first chickens, so this is all pretty new to me. For example, did you know you didn't need a rooster to get eggs? You won't get baby chicks, of course, but you'll still get eggs. This seems like common sense, but just one of the very many things I did not know about chickens.

I let her sit on some eggs for awhile, and about two weeks ago we candled them (held them over a light) to see if any of them looked like they might be developing. Lo and behold, about six of them were opaque, indicating chicks within.

My mom, a retired physiologist, insisted on cracking open the more translucent eggs, the ones we took away from Broody Hen, and none of these showed promise of life, save one or two with small blood spots, and one with (ew!) something like a small eye.

[Okay, no more disgusting details, promise. She's a scientist, I can't help it.]

Anyway, we separated Broody Bird from the other chickens and waited. She continued sitting on her eggs, but nothing happened. I'd go out to check on her and see this:

I'd marked her start date on the calendar, so after the 29 days were up, I'd pretty much given up on the eggs. Maybe they'd gotten cold one of those days she'd gotten up for a snack and gotten back in the wrong nesting box. (This was one of the reasons we'd moved her to her own box.) Or maybe we were wrong about which eggs were fertile. But then yesterday I went out to visit her and saw this:

You can even see the broken shell (post emergence) at the left. I was so tickled!

I'm sure this is old hat to anyone who has ever lived on a farm or raised birds, but I was beside myself. Happy dance time! And the peep is so fuzzy and cute. Okay, just one more shot of Mama Bird:

Doesn't she look proud?

And here's the rest of the flock, enjoying an afternoon in the garden. The handsome guy (second from left) is Odo, our rooster, the sole male escapee of last fall's buchering. Now, before you protest, let me explain that we had sixteen roosters (out of 26 chicks) that all turned into big, noisy, fighting cocks. The hens too have a pecking order (you can see some of the girls are missing feathers, and they've pulled out all but one of Odo's tailfeathers), but they're nothing compared to the demon-spawn the roosters turned into. Plus, they lay eggs, which we like to eat...so the boys...well, they're history.

So Odo is the father of the new baby, and one of the girls is the mother (no way to know which one, although I'm guessing one of the Black Jersey Giants). The black-and-white hens are Silver-laced Wyandottes. Odo was an odd chick, a freebie that came from Murray McMurray Hatchery when you ordered 25 birds. So I don't know what breed he is (hence the name Odo).

I ordered 25 more chicks from McMurray again this year, females this time (although I'm told that sexing chicks is an inexact science, and we may wind up with a few roosters anyway). I posted a photo of them on May 2. (And yes, they really did arrive by mail.)

Okay, enough about chickens. Isis is back to normal (yay!) and if I can get her to play with something other than my needles, I will continue knitting the critter blanket I started for Rebekah's charity pet drive.


RheLynn said...

Congratulations!!!! The black chick is very cute ;o) Your chickens are very pretty - our boss' mom had one silver and one gold 'phoenix' (she called them that) left from her ten chickens. There is a fox around here and it got a few before we rebuilt the henhouse.

Obsidian Kitten said...

I had to post what my friend Ash in GA had to say:

"The peep is peeptacular! I cried when I saw the little egg shell...maybe it's PMS, but it's just so sweeeeeeet."


Yeah, PMS will do that to ya.