Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Manic Mama!

It was a peaceful day at Busy Solitude Farm.  All the animals went outside in the brilliant spring sunshine.  The grass even perked up for St. Patrick's Day.  That's Abe (no mice in evidence!) under the tree, pussy footing around the yard.

I thought I'd take a look in the barn.  One of the Cuckoo Marans hens has been setting for three weeks.  I am eager to see if she hatches anyone.  So far the couple of eggs she's pushed out of the nest showed no sign of development.  I also hope to buy a few chicks at the feed store to put under her, so that I won't have to worry about the heat lamp.  I'm even considering a pair of Indian Runner Ducks, just for the fun of them!

When I went into the barn, all the hens came clickety cluckety to see what tasty morsels I might have for them.  As I scattered the scratch I looked in the nest box and what did I see?  Eleven eggs and no hen!  Where was the Mama??

This is the view out the chickens' hatch door to the outside.  Quite muddy, eh?  I like to leave the overgrown remains of the weeds there as a bit of protection against birds of prey.  Just a diversion while the chickens, hopefully, race up the ramp and back into the safety of the barn.  But I digress.  Where is the Mama?

Well, if you look carefully, you'll see her in this picture.

She was furiously dancing in the duck's wading pool!  There's not much water in there at the moment, but all I could think was "oh, I know how it feels when you've been in bed for way too long and you just have to have a bath!"  Hormonal broody hens turn manic when they leave the eggs for any bit of time.  Their tails stick straight up, they squawk at anything that gets in their way:  "Need food!  Need water!  Need to poop!  Time's-a-wasting, tick tock tick tock!"

I've never seen a broody leave the barn, however, while on nest duty, so I feared she'd given up.  I returned to the nest to gather the old, incubated eggs, figuring I would do the dreaded science experiment of cracking them open to see if anything was developing.  But when I touched the first one it was warm.  Quite warm, as if she had just fled the moment I first stepped into the barn.

I left nine of the 11 eggs in the nest.  Eleven is too many to fit under her, really, and could be the reason nothing's hatching.  And indeed, the two I opened were in states of partial development and rot.  BLECH!

When I returned to the barn half an hour later, Mama Broody was back on her nest, in her peaceful zen state.

Perhaps we'll get a blessed event after all.


Chicken Boys said...

My incubator eggs started hatching last night! Pics later on our blog! Got a couple of bantams that have laid quite a few, but aren't sitting like they should. Mike says they are, but they are rarely on the nest when I get home and take a look see. I guess we will see. Good luck with yours.

Manhattan Harvey said...

Were you a biology major at school? I don't remember that at all.

The Old Red House said...

The benefits of a liberal arts education,I say!

Callie Brady said...

Hope you get chicks! I read somewhere that not all the eggs hatch because they are not all fertile. Silly me! I thought that if you had a rooster all the eggs would hatch if the mom kept them warm. Shows how much I know...

Holly said...

I've always wanted a hen to hatch out chicks but I've never had one that did. Oh they sit a while and some even sit the whole 21 days but the eggs under them are always half developed and then begin to rot. I wish you the best and a successful hatch.

Nancy K. said...

Good luck! I hope you get lots of healthy PULLETS!

The JR said...

Good luck with the eggs. She probably just needed a break.