While the kids and I went out all day Saturday, hubby put together my cold-frame greenhouse!
I have wanted a greenhouse for years. I have had a few varieties of temporary greenhouses, but I get frustrated. It seems that they always blow over killing all the Seedlings they were housing.
This greenhouse should allow me to begin seeds, flowers, and if I am lucky I can test my hand at winter growing.
We don’t have the largest house ever and every spring my house is taken over by baby chicks and Seedlings. This means lots of dirt and dust and smells.
Now I have learned to bring home chicks and have a hen mother them, and a greenhouse to grow and house the garden ‘stuff’.
The Waiting Game.
Our broody hen was sitting on a dozen eggs. 3 long weeks of sitting. Sure it was agonizing for her, but I was so nervous she was going to do it wrong. I thought half the eggs would hatch.
She kept sitting on the wrong box firstofall. Secondly there were a few days she left the box for quite awhile. Then factor in the fact that she kept kicking out eggs… I had little faith. Shame on me.
I had a feeling something was up. Big Red wouldn’t leave her nesting box for like… two days. She knew it was go-time. I even looked at her and she would squawk at me.
Everything of this felt like I was becoming a grandmother. I was so nervous and anxious and didn’t know if I could trust her to do it as well as I could. It’s only a chicken! What will happen when I have lambs next year?! Oh boy….
I checked the eggs so many times until….. Saturday morning I SAW A PIP!
My heart was pounding.
Thank goodness I was going to be gone all morning. Big Red needed me to leave her alone. I told her she was a good momma and that she was going to have babies so very soon and went on my merry way.
When I got back there was a fairly wet baby chick hatched!
I was so excited I scooped it up and ran it to my husband and was probably screaming like a little school girl. His reaction was, “Are you supposed to be holding it?”
He is such a dude.
Probably not, but…. can you just be excited, please?!
I put the baby back gently, terrified Big Red would suffocate it. Ye of little faith. Hubby assured me it would be okay.
I checked her probably every hour. Big Red was not a huge fan of me that day. Oops.
Egg after egg hatched. I was enamored by the little fluff butts. S’CUTE!
I moved Momma Hen, her chicks and the unhatched eggs to the basket. I feared the chicks would fall from the high nesting box. She grumbled but accepted her new home with ease.
When all but 3 of her eggs hatched I decided to introduce her to the surrogate babies. We had gone to Anoka-Ramsey Farm & Garden to buy some chicks and wanted to introduce them to her so we didn’t need a brooder.
She accepted the surrogates as if they were her own. Her mommy instincts were doing me proud.Her last egg had no pips after 36 hours so I decided to candle the egg to determine if it was viable. It was not. It seemed that the air sack ruptured at some point.
So we had 11 of 12 eggs hatch, plus four from the feed store. FIFTEEN CHICKS! Phew!
What about chicken math?!
If you recall, Big Red also had two duck eggs under her. I was able to get an incubator (thanks brother!) and finish their last week in the house.
The two Pekin Duck eggs are set to hatch this weekend. We will keep them in the brooder in the house. I am not confident in my duck being a mother.
In the video I recorded, you can see the duck egg rolling a bit. This far at least one ducky is ready to come out and play!
Back to the momma hen and her babes…
Day 1 after all were hatched – she took the chicks out of the kennel and into the coop. I watched her like a hawk so the other hens or the rooster didn’t bother her. She did great.
When a chick would wonder away and get scared, the chick makes a sound like a car alarm and it sends momma hen into a tizzy. She collects all the babies to go rescue that other chick.
The different noises the chickens make to each other is amazing. I can’t even begin to describe it.
She has a noise for collecting her young, a noise to notify them of food, a noise for them to come snuggle under her for warmth.
I’m such a sap.
I am so amazed watching this. I spent hours watching her mother her young.
Day 2 after hatch she took the chicks to the chicken run. What a brave momma.
I sat outside with some friends and watched the kids play.
Suddenly Big Red and her babes were in earshot.
She took the chicks to the woods where the big chickens love to dig for bugs.
My blood pressure rose. My heart was racing. ARE THEY READY?! THEY’RE JUST BABIES!
Sure enough, when she had enough she came back and all her babies in tow (I counted them at least four times).
Brooder chicks don’t leave the brooder for two weeks. Then they are allowed outside for minimal time to begin to scavenge for bugs.
These chicks are SO different. So natural.
Have faith. That was my lesson of the week. Have some damn faith, Alyssa!
It is hard having faith in animals. Especially a little chicken brain.
If you think about it though, that little chicken brain is set to do a small number of things. Survive, make eggs, and procreate.
Surviving is my daily challenge of chickens – they are not so keen on the sensing of hawks swooping down. That is for a different blog, or probably many.
Making eggs seems obvious. You get chickens for eggs. Natural.
Procreating, however, is a whole new ballgame. But that is what the chicken is made to do. Humans have a larger brain that worries. Chickens don’t worry, they just follow their instincts.
Having faith is trusting in the process – trusting that God made his creatures to work properly (not perfectly).
Not everyone has chickens, but maybe we can all practice having faith a little more. Trust that the bad news you got is just a bump in the road and God has a plan.
If you ever have any questions, or ideas for future blogs, comment below or shoot me an email!
From the farm,