Counting Chickens.

I have no photos for the meat of this post. I have no real idea as to where this post will even go. It’s been uncharted waters for me over the past two years, and most everything I’ve done has been on a wing and a prayer. This post will be no different.

Our first venture with livestock animals came not long after we moved to Halls. I have always hated buying eggs commercially after educating myself on the conditions in which the hens live. To say it’s sad is an understatement. So we decided our first step to self sufficiency would be to have our own egg supply. We bought 8 chicks from Tractor Supply; three red, three white, one black bantam and a lavender bantam. The two bantams ended up being roosters. The black one quickly became the cock of the walk. We didn’t actually discover the lavender was a rooster until later on when he finally learned to crow. Neville, the black one, became so mean we had to kill him. Our first chicken slaughter and process. The lavender one wouldn’t go back into the coop one night and we found his feathers by the fence the next morning. A few weeks later I was in the garden and Seth came to me flustered. Something had gotten into the coop, squeezed through the chain link fencing, and butchered three of our remaining hens. Broke my heart. They were all so very sweet. I had just taken photos of them and fed them clover. Their heads were ripped off and their bodies ripped open.

Our new rooster, Rex Goliath. Sweet heart.

Our new rooster, Rex Goliath. Sweet heart.

After a while of three eggs a day and really wanting to expand ourselves, we bought four more hens who were proven layers. Two barred rocks, one Jersey Giant and a Brahma. One thing we weren’t prepared for was the pecking order, which was heartbreaking to watch, but that’s another blog entirely. We then decided we needed to be able to produce our own hens, so I got Rex from one of my doctor friends from work who raises chickens as well. He’s a big guy and a sweet boy. And he loves the girls! Oh, and they love him right back!  Since winter was ending and the girls were laying well again, we bought an incubator and decided to give it a go. Nothing goes easy for me.

Used to, I could put my finger in dirt and the weeds would die. I have never been the grower kind of person, unless we’re talking people!  I can grow PEOPLE! It’s all the other organic material I have a problem with. I’m getting better with the garden. I’m getting better with the sheep. The eggs? You know that saying ‘Don’t count  your chickens before they’re hatched’ ? Well, I counted.

Out of 20 eggs…ZERO hatched. I candled 15 after the 21 days and opened them and it was all mushy matter mixed with yolk. Nothing substantial. However the other 5 could have had a fighting chance had I not screwed up by being thoughtless and passive. I acted as if this was the easiest thing on the farm and even I couldn’t screw it up. I ignored the turning every 12 hours religiously because, do hens really turn the eggs constantly?? I guess they do. Also I taped the thermometer right beside the motor without realizing it. I only noticed days later when I finally realized the eggs were lukewarm instead of warm. This decrease in temperature stopped the growth of the fetuses. It was around 30 days for three of them and when I opened them, the fetuses were completely formed with feathers. I could tell they died probably a week before they were to hatch because they still had ‘guts’ outside of them. One was black and one was yellow and I couldn’t really tell about the other.                          {{{ Big Giant Sigh }}}

I have ten new eggs in now. They all get turned on a regular schedule. I keep a keen eye on the temp and humidity. In about a week I’ll check to see if there’s growth and go from there. I’m using an ice tray to lay them in so they aren’t bumped and rolled around, like the others were, until Steve gets the automatic egg turner he wants. I really want baby chicks. Wonder if they’ll all end up roosters! My luck. =}

2 thoughts on “Counting Chickens.

  1. One of my most vivid childhood memories is being tasked with feeding Grandma’s chickens. I must have been 3 to 4 They were, of course, free range, though she did have a nesting house for the egg laying. So all little girls wore dresses back then. I lifted the front hem of my dress, so Grandma could deposit a scoop of feed. I was to go to feed the chickens by holding my skirt up with one hand and scattering feed away from me with the other. The chickens immediately rushed me. They knew I had food. I panicked and froze in place. When I didn’t scatter feed, they started pecking at my bare feet. I dropped my skirt which only made things worse. The feed fell on my feet so they pecked all the more until I was rescued. Watch your kids around the chickens. I’m now 69, but I remember this as one of the most traumatic events of my life.

    Rex is a beautiful bird. It’s so easy to buy chicks, but learning to breed your own is a skill worth having…………Carol

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