Tag Archives: setting

Hers and Hers

I’ve got another broody hen, so now the eggery is a duplex.

The first broody – the most tolerant little girl who was keeping the orphan guinea warm for a few days (that little keet expired after all) – is due any day, if she was successful.  Her attachment to a daily meal may have left her eggs cold for too long.

I haven’t really thought through the extra occupation of the the chickery, but I’ll probably release the first set of chicks into the greenhouse jungle when they come.

The new broody is the biggest of all the silkie hens; she’s easily covering 9 eggs.

The first broody has stuck to her daily break time throughout her term-  a new quirk, and the box inside the chickery has worked perfectly.  She comes out, eats, poops, and then creeps back into her box, talking to her eggs the whole time, which is adorable.  I’m coming back…here I am.

Eye wide open

Oreos and the Cobra mom

The only time to see the wild Oreos up close is evening time in the coop.  They are handsome looking now, and not so much filling as cookie these days – they´re turning out raven black, with the blackest glossy legs.

 

 

 

The guinea hen is definitely setting.

This is early on – is she or isn´t she?

Later on she scraped up all the hay in the coop, and made a lovely, perfectly round nest with high walls.  When she flattens out and dozes, you can barely see comb over the sides of her nest.

No idea how many eggs she´s got.  Easily 20.  Perhaps a chicken egg got in there too.  In fact, she could be due any day.  I don´t know about guinea terms, but she´s got to be close.

And since there´s only three birds walking about yet, I suspect those three are the boys, and the other hen has found her own nest site somewhere in the woods. May she walk out healthy one day with a trail of chicks.

While I´m delighted that she´s pleased enough with the coop I made them to brood in it, there are some things that I did not consider.  Such as, what happens when they hatch?

She hasn´t lifted off that nest for a moment, so I´m thinking as soon as they hatch she´ll be ready for a snack.  And then day old guinea chicks will start pouring out of the coop, six feet off the ground?  If they do bounce, then, how about when mom goes back to bed?  If I lift in the chicks, she´ll come blazing out, the chicks will follow her out…this is a circular vision.

I decided to put a screen door on the coop so I can keep them all in there a couple of days, or something.

Applying the screen door was fine.  When I set a dish of food and water inside the door, however, whoooweee!

She is terrifying!  She opens her mouth like a cobra, spreads her wings wide and full, so she looks like a flat feather wall, and stares.  Then one piercing squawk, and wham! cobra strike.  She gave me a good chomp.  Same when I refilled the water, after she tugged the dishes in close to the circle around her nest.  Then I had to reach in even closer to her.  I didn´t risk the food dish.

Yikes.

And then four hens decided to hang out in the woodshed, even though it wasn´t raining.

Is she or isn’t she?

The guinea hen was sitting on her eggs!  But was she setting?  Or just laying an egg?

If it´s the former, there might be a couple chicks in there, because of the hen who lays in there (cuckoo, cuckoo!)

The two boys were on the roof, raising hell.  Screaming in a way that drew me to check if anything was wrong.  Crazy raise-the-roof-alarm yelling.

She´s sitting on eggs! She´s sitting on eggs! She´s sitting on eggs! Sitting on eggs! On eggs!  On eggs!  ON EGGS! EGGS! EGGS!

Really, all the yelling about it seems maladaptive.

There she is in there, sitting on some eggs.

(She wasn´t setting, just laying one, probably).

Good, I need time to put a chick fence on the door.  I didn´t think that through – a coop five feet off the ground – what if she hatches her chicks in there?  They´ll fall out.  I´ll have to block them in for a few days until they can do a controlled landing/flutter.

Broody hen egg poachers

Today I open the coop to this mess.

20160603_174028
I’m helping!

How exactly did they get an egg in the fount?

The fount is in there for the determined broody who was settled in.  I thought I’d try out letting her set in the coop.  It’s not going well.

My Silkies are trying.  Very trying.

The last of my originals are the good rooster and the little white hen, who is smaller all the time (shrinking)- a little wraith of a chicken- but still feisty, cranky, and laying.  The other hens are all former chicks, hatched last year, who are now trying to figure out how to become mother hens, but are rather bad at it and do not accept instruction.

20160618_134744

First they all went broody one after the other, in March.  A little early, Missy’s, but, if you must…  They decided to pile up together right at the top of their ramp, a small-brained decision.  Eggs roll, after all.  And the roosters would step on them on their way into the coop.

Then, the egg-thieving began.  These Slkies are champion egg thieves.  It’s an ongoing problem.  At first, the let-no-egg-go-untended ethos seemed good, as when any of the sisters left for a drink or a quick bite, her eggs were promptly grabbed and tucked under a hot furry chicken breast.

Curious how they moved eggs around as they obviously, frequently do, I’d wondered about their egg-rolling methods until I saw them do it, right under my hands.  It turns out the beak and the egg are perfectly adapted to each other when it comes to rolling.  I was shuffling irritated hens around to see what was under them, an egg came into sight, and whisk!  The hen (in my hands) stretched out her beak and flick-rolled that egg into her own collection as fast as a blink.  OK, then!

So these broody sisters were playing egg-snatchers, and sometimes a hen would have no eggs, another would have too many.  The egg arms race.

20160620_072511
“Chicken Gatorade”- poultry multivitamin

I tried to move three of the most committed birds into a shared broody box (still in the coop), but they were having none of it. Two escaped the box and returned to their original precarious choice (top of the ramp), leaving one heroically topping a mound of abandoned eggs.

I was reluctant to take any of them out of the coop because it seems cold to be away from the familial body heat.

I let them have it their way.  It did not go well.  Eggs vanished.  One hen decided to set a clutch way too big for her under the ramp, and when I culled her holdings she restored her stock from who-knows-where.

Eventually all the hens but one gave up and moved on with another phase in their lives.  That one, so determined, sat and sat.  She’s a classy polite little brown lady, like her mom the first brown hen. When it went far too long for anything to be alive under her, I took and broke her eggs, and sadly, half of them were almost finished before they died.  I don’t know why; there must have been some event.  The others were horribly rotten, gah!

She’s so fixed though (I’m hatching a damn egg if it’s the last thing I do!), that I gave her four new eggs, and, worried for her body weight, her own snack bar, which I think she ignores but the other hens polish off.  20160522_073507

A few days later, I was tucking fresh hay around her and peeked- seven eggs!  Sigh, here we go.  I suppose she’s taking them from the other side of the coop where the other ladies are laying and leaving these days.  I have to watch these little birds, but they do not make it easy to help them.

(just after this I resorted to sequestering each hen with about seven eggs in a box of her own in the greenhouse, and the Silkie population is now burgeoning)

Two more chicks!

2015-07-15 09.59.38
There’s the little brown one.
There's the little white one.  It looks like she's been pooped on.
There’s the little white one. It looks like she’s been pooped on.
The two new ones are remarkably smaller than the other chick, only two days older.
The two new ones are remarkably smaller than the other chick, only two days older.

Yay!  Three chicks from the white hen (although two are from stolen eggs)- far better than I expected, and equal to her productivity last year.

I’m pretty sure that will be it for chicks from her, although I’ll leave her her eggs a few more days.   She would know, I think, if there was any life in the remaining eggs and stay on them.   After the first chick, she got even more fierce about sitting on her eggs, as two more were close to done then.  Now she seems to be losing interest in the eggs, or else she’s just very hungry now.

All four of them are in a confinement box now for a few days.

Second broody hen

Ah, yes, the little brown hen is now officially broody.  I’ve been wondering if she’s on her way, as she’s been spending some time every day in the coop, but it seems she was just taking her sweet time laying eggs.

She has five or six under her, a nice reasonable number, unlike someone else we know.

2015-07-15 09.56.13
What? I’m helping.

What’s been very amusing is that she’s been shuffling her eggs every day.  At three eggs, I made a clean straw bowl and put the three scattered eggs in it.  The next day, she moved all three a foot away, and laid another.  The next day, she moved them back.  The next day, relocated again.  Now, she’s back in the “nest” I made, and is settled down.

We really need a chicken cam, to see what goes on in there- all this egg shuffling.  How do they do it?  How long does it take?

It’s kind of cool that they took turns going broody.  Snowball (the rooster) agrees.  He gets SO bored when there are no hens to hang with, and then he starts getting into trouble, deciding to take charge of the red hens, or something.

 

 

Due date dubious

Zen hen knows nothing at all about missing eggs.
Zen hen knows nothing at all about missing eggs.

A few days ago the white broody got really deep into it, no longer leaving the coop in the morning, and assuming a very deep meditative state.  I gave her a bento box and water, and she snacks on it, but at this stage she must must get very serious about her mission.

The cardboard has worked – no more egg thieving.  Her due date has come and gone, and I expect the worst, that she’s lost them all for being too ambitious.  Yet, I hope for some hatching.

I’m waiting for her head to come up, I remember it from last year.  When she starts looking awake, it will be because there’s something going on beneath her.

Thievery in the hen house

Trouble in Silkieland.  There’s been a dirty thief in the hen house, stealing eggs.

I discovered this when I responded to an altercation at the henhouse.  The red hen was complaining vociferously, and I was surprised to find the squabble was going down in the henhouse.

I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I happened to peek under the broody white hen.

This is what I found:

2015-07-05 14.32.34TEN eggs!  So much for leaving her a comfortable number that she can cover completely (four).  She’s been taking the eggs as the brown hen lays them.  If the brown hen is trying to get a clutch together so she can set, no wonder she’s pissed.

Where’s my egg?  I left it RIGHT here!  That’s the sixth one this week!

I don’t know anything about any eggs.  I don’t even like eggs.

What’s really funny to imagine is how the white hen is collecting them from the other side of the coop.  Does she roll them over with her face, or dribble them with her feet?  I’d like to see that.  But sometime during the day while the others are out, she leaves her  eggs and scoots the red hen’s egg across the coop into her pile.

And why?  What goes on in her little poofy head? Does she think OMG; how did one of my eggs get over there?    Or, An egg, all by itself, how sad.  I should adopt that!

At any rate, she now has six of the brown hen’s eggs under her and four of her own, which would be nice if they hatched, but it’s very likely she’s compromised the whole batch by having too many and not being able to keep them all warm.

I had to put up a cardboard visual barrier in the coop, so the little megalomaniac can’t see any of the brown hen’s eggs, and therefore shouldn’t be collecting them any more.