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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Story of the Little White Hen

Miss Frizz is a frizzled white bantam cochin hen.  She ordinarily is very cute and fluffy. Miss Frizz decided that she wanted, no NEEDED to be a mother and got all broody.  Problem is, Miss Frizz lays tiny white eggs and our rooster Goldy is a full size Buff orpington.  I didn't think that a bigger chick could hatch out of one of those tiny eggs.  Goldy is rather partial to blondes and pays particular attention to those of his own breed.  So as they were laying eggs I would grab them, mark them with the date and slip them under Miss Frizz's warm chest.  I put four eggs in her nest- 3 laid by Buff orpington hens and one by a silver laced wyandotte.  What were the chances they were all fertile?
One day, two weeks ago, we came home and I could see from the driveway that there was an egg laying in the middle of the coop.  I went in and picked it up and was glad I looked closely because it was one of the marked eggs that were being incubated.  The egg was cold so I didn't have much hope it would hatch but I stuck it back under her anyway.  Interestingly enough, there were five eggs under Miss Frizz.  Hmm.  Okay, five plus one in my hand equals six.  I did the math a few more times to convince myself there were more than four.  Two of the eggs were not marked so I imagine Miss Frizz got up to get a bite to eat and a couple of interlopers laid their eggs and evidently booted one out.  I have no idea who laid those eggs!  And they were laid a week after the first four.  I just left them there.
I left Miss Frizz in her nest box in the hen house fully intending to move her the day before the eggs were to begin hatching.  Unfortunately when I got home from work on friday I could hear peeping...I was very excited and found a wee little wet yellow chick under Miss Frizz!  But there were two eggshells and I searched in vain underneath her for another chick.  Sadly, I found it not far from the nest boxes and it had been pecked to death.  Then I noticed poor Miss Frizz's head...all those black marks are peck marks.  She must have been defending her first born and got rather beat up for her efforts.  Fortunately, she went back to her nest and hatched the little one above.  Those two chicks hatched on day 20- not day 21!
Having sadly learned my lesson I scooted those eggs and Miss Frizz into a nice big dog kennel with lots of hay.  I'm proud to say that all of the original four eggs  hatched.  But for the tradgedy we would have four chicks peeping instead of the three lovelies harassing their mother currently.
This is the first time we have had chicks hatched under the hen.  The kids were able to hold those eggs up to their ears to hear the chicks peeping inside...truely magical.  The chicks behavior is incredibly different than our experience last year with those that came from the hatchery.  Miss Frizz has all sorts of noises coded in chicken that she uses to try to tame and teach them.  The poor thing  can't get a bite to eat without being harrassed by her babies.  Oh, and she is still sitting on the other two eggs...we'll leave them there another week to see if they are fertile.
On another note...Buffy the english angora was due to kindle on May 19.  No bunnies.  Today=May 23...still no bunnies.  I can only conclude that she was able to evade her young suitors amorous intentions or that he is shooting blanks.  I normally stay to, ahem, observe but this time I did not...I watched them from the living room window and everyone looked like they were getting along fine and I did observe "the deed" once (or what I thought was the deed once) but alas... We'll make due with chicks and expect baby bunnies on Memorial Day!

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