May 18, 2020

'Round Midnight

Memories always start 'round midnight.

'Round Midnight

Just a quick addendum to my last post, on the topic of the hen-incubated clutches of eggs. The estimated due date for these hatches was this past Saturday.

Of Okoye’s three remaining eggs, one was stolen and disappeared entirely (still no clue as to the culprit), one was crushed and revealed to be rotten, and one turned out to be unfertilized.

So that is a second failed round of brooding for Okoye (she tried, fruitlessly, last fall as well). She remains the Queen Anne among my chickens.

J-Bird (Luisa) had a clutch of six eggs. Four were revealed to be infertile when candled. (Infertile eggs remain clear, with only the yolk visible). Two looked ready to hatch so they were left with her.

And yesterday morning, amazingly, the loud chirps of a chick were heard coming from under her body!

A perfect Wyandotte chick.

Sadly, at this point, several lessons were learned. Yesterday was a day of multiple minor catastrophes and unexpected turns. Here are just the chick-related ones:

What I learned

Hens with chicks need to be placed in a goat-proof protected space, because the goats can't resist climbing into the coop and will destroy any kind of barrier out of curiosity if they can.

Other hens will trample to death a newborn chick in order to lay their eggs in a nesting area that has suddenly became accessible to them.

A broody mama traumatized by these events will abandon the remaining egg.

The remaining egg can be successfully hatched in the bra of a distraught human mama about 12 hours later, 'round midnight.

The fan of the incubator drowns out many of the sounds of hatching. Having the egg against your skin also reveals what it feels like.

The surge of oxytocin that accompanies mothering gets me through sleep deprivation just as surely as it did nearly twenty years ago, with my human babies.

With some gentle persuasion, the spooked broody mama can be convinced to accept the human-hatched chick again!