Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Hicks Love Their Chicks

There are no more renovations to do on our home this summer so we have a new rebuilding project: We're working on building up our flock of chickens. Although a small flock is nice, and easy on the outside pen, it doesn't produce enough eggs.
Wes and Maryanne, our Mount Pleasant neighbours (close by country standards - we could walk to their house in a day) provided us with brown-shelled eggs to eat and green-shelled eggs to hatch out so my husband and I decided to make a competition out of it. It's a lopsided competition, mind you, and I don't know who really wins but this is what we're doing: Pitting the natural way against the modern way.
Dwayne is incubating nine eggs...

...while my dear little Rhode Island Red, NoNo (she of the no toes), who has been broody since May, is faithfully sitting on three eggs dated June 25. We started a day late because when I tried to remove her to the other room, into the rabbit pen which is vacant all summer (Rosie the rabbit being in her cottage), she wouldn't settle for being away from the flock. So between NoNo and an unnamed Australorp, with the shiny black feathers and black eyes -- who I am now going to name, breaking news, folks, let's call her Gwen, after a woman in my hometown who died her hair jet black!
Okay, so between NoNo and Gwen, my eggs are always underneath a toasty warm feathery roof.

I'll stick a photo of Gwen in here at some point...she really is part of the game and a very pretty, very quiet hen.
(And here she is taking her turn on the eggs. Gwen, everybody!)


Hey, two moms for my eggs! So natural yet so modern.
The eggs hatch out around Day 21 so I will start watching closely from July 13 on. It will be easier to see my husband's chicks hatch out since they are incubating in the laundry room. I don't know if this gives me an advantage but the body temperature of chickens is 102 degrees -- hot chicks indeed! -- while my husband keeps his incubator at 100 degrees.

In the meantime, we're already getting our chick fix.

Five lace Wyandotte chicks from local breeders of heritage breeds, Joseph and Tammy.
These two photos are from their first few days here. The night we brought them home and put them under the heat lamp, the temperature outside dropped to 10 degrees. But they survived the night to cheep-cheep another day.

They also survive periodic maulings from their human mother. 

For the first few days, I left a big butt imprint in the shavings in their pen (I keep finding shavings in my laundry basket). These days -- nine days later -- they are scurrying around everywhere so no more sitting inside; I don't want to step on one of them. 
I've named one of them Goldie because she had more yellow and less black on her and as of today, now that they are a little older, I am predicting -- more breaking news, folks -- I'm predicting that in our five chicks, we have two roosters and three hens. The two are slightly larger with more noticeable tail feathers. According to that, therefore, my Goldie is a hen. 
That's the fun of getting day-old chicks and hatching out eggs: You can't know what you're going to get; you can only hope you end up with more hens than roosters (sorry, guys). And with the eggs...we hope we get more hatched than not. For NoNo's sake, my toes are crossed. 

Took this photo of our one and only lace Wyandotte, "Mimi". This is what the chicks will grow up to look like. Boy, they still have a looong way to go.

AND just because she was standing right in front of me, waiting for me to take her picture, here is Beulah, one of two Plymouth Rocks (the other is named Gabby). Rocks are my favourite (that's a Barred Rock behind Mimi) because they are an inquisitive, friendly, docile bird. 
In case, you know, you were looking to get chickens and wanted my recommendation.
Anyway, say Hi to Beulah. She might just say Hi back.


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