After a long winter, we all had a pretty bad case of spring fever around here. People and animals alike were ready for warmer weather and the new life of spring - especially a certain little black hen of ours.
Broodiness - that inborn urge to sit... and sit... and sit on a nest full of eggs has been bred out of most modern commercial laying hens. But our chickens are old-fashioned heritage breeds, so they still know how to be chickens. Our little black hen decided it was time to be a mother, so she began to sit...and sit...and sit on her nest - rightly earning our children's apt if unoriginal name for her "Broody".
At first we tried to dissuade Broody, plying her with scratch grain or putting her out in the choicest pasture spot. It's not that we didn't want her to hatch some little chicks - the problem was the protective yet docile Orpington rooster we've been wanting has not yet materialized, so we have no fertile eggs for her to hatch.
When we saw that Broody was serious, not leaving her nest for anything, we thought this might be a great way to get that Orpington rooster after all. And so we ordered some very special fertile eggs and slipped them under our little black hen. And she began to sit...and sit...and sit... and that little hen sat for 21 days straight until one morning I came out to see three of these:
There's nothing cuter than a fluffy new chick! Except of course, a fluffy new bunny. New little lambs and goats are awfully cute too - let's face it, we're just about overrun with cuteness around here!
But we still had a problem over in the nest - one little chick had pipped (broken through the shell) but was unable to hatch out by itself. This happens sometimes, and these chicks have another apt if unoriginal name - "help-outs". I have to say, helping a frail, wet little chick out of it's shell, holding its fragile life in your hand and helping it to be "born" is really an amazing experience.
I warmed the chick a bit under our brooder heater, then slipped it under Broody in her nest that evening. I wasn't sure if that fragile little thing would make it - if it hadn't gotten too chilled, if I hadn't injured it in taking it out, if Broody would accept it after so much time apart. But the next morning I came out to see four little chicks, fluffy and cute as can be. They're doing well, growing bigger each day - thanks to that Mama Hen, Broody. And hopefully soon we'll have that Orpington rooster we've been wanting - or two, or three, or four. A Lemon Cuckoo Orpington, quite possibly one of the prettiest chickens around, with sunny yellow and white striped feathers and a bright red comb. I'll let you know how Broody's babies turn out.
Welcome to our old-fashioned family homestead. Living here is truly a dream come true for us! We're so happy to be able to slow down, step back and embrace a simpler, more connected way of living here on our little farm. And we're happy to be able to share some of the joys, adventures and challenges of that life with you here on our new blog.
Thanks for reading!
The joys, adventures and challenges of life on a small, family homestead raising blue eyed Holland lop rabbits, Shetland sheep, miniature goats and more!