My friend, Shannon, across the river, wants some Barred Rock hens. Only one of the six eggs I gave her hatched in the incubator, so when Phyllis became broody, I said I'd put some eggs under her and we'd see what happened. Let me tell you, those eggs are quite hot underneath those feathers.
Thankfully, I put a "P" on the three eggs so whenever an extra egg showed up -- how? I don't know, likely a certain pushy brown hen who I'd have to remove from that nest box -- I didn't lose track of the ones Phyllis was working on.
We knew if something was going to hatch, it would be this week. Eggs incubate for roughly 21 days.
Yesterday morning, when I went out to the coop, I could hear cheeping from underneath Phyllis. One egg had a pip in it!
When I went back into the house to tell Dwayne, he looked up from his seat at the dining room table and told me that someone I know through church had died suddenly.
By mid-day, this little chick had made its appearance. Exhausted but alive and well!
Over the past 12 years of keeping chickens, we ordered day-old chicks and hatched out eggs in an incubator. This was my first time seeing a baby born naturally, with its mama right there. I was surprised by how moving the experience was - after all these years of having chickens.
It was a needed moment of joy, and distraction, on a day when the human world was full of anger and sorrow and worry and fear. When the Covid-19 restrictions on gathering for funerals finally hit close to home for me. When email updates don't come and those that do are full of words like "progressing" and "comfortable". When the news is full of chaos and cruelty, bullying and brutality.
Here's our little chick at the end of its first day of outside-the-egg life, snuggling up to mama Phyllis for the night. Funny little cheeper!
I even went out at 3 o'clock in the morning to check on them. I was a little worried Cheeper would fall out of the nest box but everyone was asleep in their box and on their roosts, and didn't really appreciate me wandering around in the dark with my (muted) flashlight.
Phyllis continues to sit on two other eggs; there's weight in them but no signs of life. The first chick peeping usually encourages the others to pip out so I'll give those eggs until tomorrow morning.
One baby is more than enough joy for this moment, this day, this first-time experience.