A few days ago I posted the story of Babes, the little bluish-gray chicken who was lost for three days, and then came back to us. She has taken a big step in the past couple of weeks: she is sitting on a clutch of eggs.
This doesn’t happen very often out here. We’d like it to . . . it’s enormously easier to let the mama chicken raise babies, compared to my raising them myself, but there are reasons why it doesn’t work out very often.
Reason #1: Many chicken breeds have had the urge to “go broody,” or sit on a clutch of eggs until they hatch, bred out of them. There are still many individual chickens that will try to hatch out babies, but as a rule not many have that inborn desire. Generally speaking, bantams will go broody more often than full-sized breeds.
Reason #2: Our little chicken coop has two areas: the big open room where all the chickens roost at night, where the nesting boxes are, and most of the chickens hang out during the day when they’re not outside doing their thing is the first area. The second is a narrow room I use as the “nursery,” where I can isolate a sick chicken from the rest if the need arises, or separate chicks from the older ones. Usually, if one of my hens goes broody, she doggedly tries to sit on eggs in the main open room. This doesn’t work. Trust me. The other hens will pick on her, lay eggs in the box with her, bully her off her nest, etc. And if I try to move the broody hen (with her eggs) into the private room, she’ll nearly always make a fuss and move back into the open room.
So here’s my big news. I discovered Babes, about a week and a half ago, sitting on eggs in the nursery. If she succeeds at incubating those eggs for 21 days, she’ll have her own little family of chicks to raise.
This is exciting news out here. More than exciting! We are thrilled beyond measure. If she has done a good job of keeping those eggs warm, we’ll have babies here this week!
Here’s a picture of our little Babes, all pluffed-up and matronly-looking, already:
Doesn’t she look fiercely protective? Hopefully within a few days I’ll be posting pictures of her with little ones peeking out from underneath her downy self.
Prepare yourselves. This could be really sweet.
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