I know. Too much of a good thing is too much. Nevertheless . . . Lookie at what joined us today!
Our chicken, Toodie began laying eggs in the same place everyday, and Neva and I thought we’d just leave them alone to see what happens. But another chicken kept going into the nest and laying eggs too, and before we knew it there were 21 eggs under this little chicken. (They average about 7 eggs for a one time hatching.) But dang if we didn’t keep forgetting a pencil to mark which ones that were there first, which would allow us to remove the new eggs. Since we didn’t know which ones were old and which ones were new, we ended up leaving them all – then, when it was obvious this egg explosion was never going to cease, we moved the chicken to her own pen to brood so no other eggs would be added. Now, we had eggs of different incubation timing in process. Ee-gad.
Three weeks went by. Nothing was hatching. I worried that perhaps these eggs were not fertilized. One of my roosters was still convalescing from the dog attack, and the other is rather young. Perhaps they are not getting it on with the girls with gusto, as roosters are supposed to do. But, after the duck episode, there was no way I was going to toss possibly soon-to-hatch eggs into oblivion. Still, I worried that poor Toodie was wasting her time, hour after hour turning her eggs and sitting there with barely enough food to keep up her strength. Then, yesterday, I heard peeping. Sure enough there was something under our chicken. I lifted her up. No babies, but I did see some hatched empty shells. Where the heck were the chicks? Then I moved Toodie’s wing, and out dropped the chicks, tucked underneath to keep warm. Talk about cute. Five eggs hatched the first day, and one the next. Only, this late-comer seems awfully tiny and weak, so it may not survive. The problem is, Toodie is now going about business caring for the five robust chicks and the newbie isn’t getting the gentle care and warmth it needs. I thought about bringing it inside to put under a heat lamp, but in the end, I’ve decided to let nature take it’s course. I am a bit overrun with birds at the moment, and fun is fun, but too much is too much. Frankly, I don’t need this many chickens. I already have more eggs than I need. The act of hatching has been remarkably cool, but the idea of being tied down to chicken maintenance isn’t exactly my idea of the good life.
There are still eggs under Toodie, but they are taking space and making it harder for the chicks to fit under Mom. I guess tomorrow I’ll toss those eggs that haven’t hatched. It will take inner strength and a stiff upper lip, but I will do the awful deed. They are being ignored anyway now, so it is unlikely they will survive. Toodie will raise her young, which is a no-brainer for me, thank God. I am finishing up my MFA and preparing to take a trip to Boston in a month, and there is only so much animal care I can thrust on poor Denver, good sport though she is.
Our chicks are sure cute, all mottled gray and tan fuzz. They are half silkie and half cochen hen, so they will be fat and round and, when their feathers come in, probably shades of black and white. Nevertheless, I am at my Chicken max now (I hope.) It’s been fun, but there is more to life than poultry, even if Neva would disagree.
I am reading a book called, Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance – a funny memoir by a British man who enjoyed trying his hand at raising chickens too. Makes me laugh – at myself and his story. There are universal truths in this entire chicken raising thing. Everyone should try it once.
Anyway, Neva is delighted. We are discussing names now. We name everything. When I got the bees I said to Mark, “Gee, it’s going to be hard remembering all 40 thousand names.” He said, “Well, I just want to name the queen. Call her Aunt Bee. We do live in Mayberry, after all.” So that is the one bee we named.
So, this closes my chicken report for this season. I am ready to move onto different subjects (huge sigh of relief from the blog galaxy.) Of course, this doesn’t mean I won’t share a peacock report or two along the way. The point is, me and my wonderful partner in poultry crime (Neva) are having a grand ole time. It is nice to share something so simple with a little girl who reminds you what a miracle life is.