I keep hens. We inherited some when we moved here; we were given three as a thank you, and we’ve bought a couple more. With assorted deaths (both unplanned and natural), we now have four, two of whom must be so ancient they are having a lovely retirement roaming around, eating lots, but not actually laying any eggs. Which – and I hate to be demanding – is their primary purpose. The two others take it in turns to lay an egg if they feel like it. Frankly with four people here, demand was outstripping supply.
Last year we bought half a dozen fertile eggs to go under Speckle when she was broody. Only one hatched: Frankie, a beautiful dark Maran. I may have bored you with pictures of her last summer. Given those odds, we bought a small incubator and decided to buy some more fertile eggs to see if we could do any better, but before we did, Noggin arrived.
Noggin is magnificent: part Buff Orpington (that’s posh pedigree). He has come to stay with us because his early rising woke his previous neighbours. Perfect timing. Hello Noggin. He immediately made friends with the four new women in his life. Frankie is his favourite: she is as besotted as a hen can be. The two old ladies (imaginatively named Mrs Fluffy and Mrs Chatty) put up with him, although I have to say Mrs Fluffy, our tiny bantam who is about a quarter of Noggin’s size, has taken to emerging from the henhouse later than usual to avoid Noggin’s early morning amorous attentions. I don’t blame her.
So: a few weeks after Noggin had been Mr Lover-Lover, we collected four eggs from Frankie and two from Speckle, and put them in our incubator. Twenty-one days later it all got quite exciting. The eggs had been peeping for a couple of days, and wobbling.
Two were out that evening, and we moved them into a box by the Aga to keep warm. By breakfast time two more were out.
The following morning the last egg had finally got going, and our fifth and last chick was out by about 9am (one egg never developed). By that time the incubator was so wet it was never going to dry off, so I tried putting it in the box with the others. They were all fluffed up and decided they were much older and meaner, and started to peck it, so I put it down my jumper to dry off. Barbara Good would have done the same.
They are now five days old. The only member of our household who isn’t feeling overcome with cutemania is Darcy, my elderly cat, who has been banished from his usual warm Aga spot on account of his snacking tendencies. It won’t be for long.
Now we just have to wait to discover how many of them are girls, and find other homes for the boys. Anyone want a cockerel?
How amazing! Is there a correlation between the colour of the egg and the colour of the chick? At first glance, I thought the eggs were chocolate!
I want to put a chick down my jumper too – it’s on my bucket list. Call me when you do this again…please?
Yes: Frankie’s dark eggs produced the black and grey chicks, and the one lighter coloured egg (Speckle’s) was the yellow chick. If we ever do this again you can be on nanny/jumper watch with me.
You’re on! We’re a long way from having hens, but it’s in the grand plan. I envy your little corner of rural heaven.
I thought the eggs were chocolate too at first!
Very cute, thank you! I could really feel everyone’s excitement 🙂 I don’t think I would’ve wanted to go to school either.
Don’t think chocolate eggs would still be egg-shaped at 37.5 degrees C. There is much chick-picking-up when they’re not at school.
Thanks for sharing the pics – they’re off the cute scale! As you know Isabel I have hens too and recently adopted a cockerel. I’d love to try and hatch some eggs but I’ve no room in the coop for any more and I’d worry that all the chicks would be male and I’d have a re-homing problem. Looking for regular chick updates! 🙂
Thanks, Helen! I tried bringing our bantam, Mrs Fluffy, inside to be Mum (she often goes broody but isn’t at the moment). She wasn’t in the mood, and after she pecked one on the head and sat on another, I took her out again. This lot are going to think they’re human – they are already very tame.
This is a fantastic post! So exciting to read and I LOVE the picture of your daughter watching her very own nature programme, live. I hope this will become a regular feature. Lots more updates, please. 🙂
Thank you, Josephine! Yes, we can’t keep the kids away from them, especially now they can pick up the chicks.
How much do I love this post (especially the title) and how much do I love that you have a Aga? I have all the love. More updates as and when, please.
I love that you have all the love. Our Aga came with our house, so we kept it. Very useful chick-warmer!
Wow, all the family looking over my shoulder here, I grew up with chooks but my children didn’t, of course they want one, though not entirely practical living in an apartment in town. Thanks so much for sharing your chick lit, the best story ever! Enjoy them.