Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Farm Update: Life Will Overcome!
I keep hens for the eggs, the pest control and backyard commotion. I love the sounds of the hens exploring and clucking around the yard. It is a great chance for my young children to grow up learning about animals, our food and life.
Every year we have purchased a handful of new chicks. Living surrounded by orchards and alfalfa fields has the drawback of being a great place for predators to hang out and stalk our coop. This year we were very lucky to only lose one hen. So I sadly told the kids there would be no new chicks this Spring.
Yes, the kids ask me every time we are in the Co-op and walk past the bins of chirping baby chicks and ducklings. "Can we get one?"
Since my son is entering Kindergarten this year I thought it would be fun to order a small incubator and explore how the chicks develop and hatch from their eggs. It really is an amazing thing to observe. But, with the baby coming most extra projects have been put on hold. I just only have so much time in the day and energy to spread around.
None of my laying hens have even shown the slightest interest in brooding their eggs. I call it the "drop, plop and run". As soon as the run doors open in the morning the hens are off to different corners of the yard or orchard. But my fluffy little Cochin hens have all but disappeared from the yard.
Cochins are a chicken developed in China to be more of a pet than production bird. They have a great pillow of billowing feathers all the way down their feet. Sweet and docile I ordered 3 chicks last year just to keep as pets. The info on the mail order site said they were not consistent layers (not a problem as pets) and would need an incubator in order to brood. It called them "flighty" and "not reliable".
Well, someone forgot to tell these hens that! After a mishap with the hutch floor dropping out and cracking 4 fertilized eggs, the hens have very patiently sat with a new batch. Yesterday my kids discovered the tiny peeps coming from behind the hutch door. Here was our little surprise.
The kids have already named her and I want to give the hens a chance to hatch out another 2 eggs before I take the rest away. I am not going to lift a finger for these guys though. I am not bringing them in and they will have to survive on their own.
So far life has proved to be a determined force in our backyard. Despite what anyone says about this breed, they are doing a fabulous job. Their persistence paid off and I am so proud of these fluffy mamas. Life really does find a way, doesn't it?