I’ve been on a big chicken-mamma adventure this last month or so, courtesy of two incredibly broody hens. Oh my gosh. Eileen was the first to drink the broody kool-aid, and Alice joined in as soon as she could. The quickest solution to our broody problem would have been to pop some fertile eggs under each girl and wait three weeks. That would have been too simple! The girls went broody right before we were due to go to Norfolk, but of course there was no way I felt comfortable leaving them sitting over the height of summer.
We purchased six day-old chicks and popped three under each pullet. They didn’t take. So now we’re raising six chicks (in a brooder overnight and outside during the day)! Family and friends looked after them while we were away, thank goodness. They are six week-old tweens now, and I’m thinking they need to move outside permanently just as soon as this awful weather is over…
The girls were still broody. I spent a week or so turfing them off their nests and locking them out of the coop, to no avail. I was very unpopular. I took the coop apart, removing the floor and spraying the whole thing for mites, just in case. The girls hopped up on their roost, so I thought we were clear. A day or two later, broody again! Agh. Then we left for holidays.
We came back to still broody chickens, getting on for 6 weeks of broodiness – not a good thing. They can die from exhaustion, heat stress and are vulnerable to mites (which is why I sprayed before we left). They have lost a fair bit of condition.
In the end, the lovely lady who sold me Alice and Eileen, and the chicks, gave us four eggs due to hatch. We rushed them home in a carton wrapped up in a towel with a hot water bottle and snuck them under the broodies on Friday night.
And yesterday, we heard the sweetest little chirps coming from their respective nests!
Initially, my heart sank as I looked in on Alice to see a broken egg in the nesting box. I thought she’d squashed it. Duh. Baby chicks don’t magic themselves out of their eggs, Nanny Plum-style!
Each mum has hatched a chick each, with each having one egg remaining. If they don’t hatch in the next 24 hours or so, I think they won’t.
I’m hoping this is the end of broodiness for this year.
And now, of course, we have ten chickens. Sigh. A good few will be roosters and will go back to the breeder.
We have space for four to five hens in our existing set-up. I asked for hardware store gift vouchers for Christmas, and we’ve just started construction of a little growing pen to house a few more. I’ve been told this is how it all begins…
Chickens aside, we’ve been doing a lot of this.
By Friday afternoon Elena’s backslab cast had cracked in a few places, so we were back to the hospital for a new fibreglass cast. I thought it was going to take hours as we had to go via the Emergency Department, but we were out about an hour after we were triaged. I was so thankful. The triage nurse gave Elena an ice block, so the hospital’s about her favourite place ever at the moment.
In other news, well, the garden has gone feral. Between the children, the chickens and the rain, I haven’t mustered the energy to tame it. I’ll have to get my act together, so our little chicken city isn’t completely over grown.
Hope you’ve all had good weekends – with fewer broody chickens and under-the-weather children!