Saturday, May 30, 2009

In the hen house.

To get away from the stress and sadness that my family is dealing with, other family members give me a day or two and I try to get to see the girls. A few weeks ago when I went to see Chico and the gang, my friend Dan said "I have something cool to show you". When I arrived he came with me to the hen house, in one corner he had built a cage up off the floor, but why---- what could be in this cage?

What creature could be hiding in this cage, could this be a time out pen for Chico during one of his little brat moments? Something was sitting in the corner.

Why it was Gracie! She had her own cute little chicken condo! She is getting along well with all the other chickens, so it could only mean one thing. Gracie had started to hatch! I sure could use the smile. Dan knew this would make me happy and he is very kind hearted like that, to take the trouble and set this up for me, plus he is having fun with the girls as well. Dan did not know however that he should have tried to put all the eggs under Gracie at the same time, he spread them out over four days. Gracie only laid two eggs when she started to hatch as hens stop laying when they begin to sit. We were only going to let her have two or three chicks just to make her happy and for the fun of it. We decided to try some experiments, we gave her two of the brown eggs. Marlene gave us one of the brown eggs, we suspect now Lucy was the other. I wanted to try two brown eggs because some days Chico will mate with the smaller red sex-link hens, most days he falls off since he is much smaller and can't mate with them properly. We also heard that you can take eggs from the fridge, so we took the last three eggs Gracie laid before starting to hatch, put them out on the counter until room temperature and gave them to her as well.

Fast forward to nineteen days later.

Peek-a-boo mommy! This is a chick from Marlene (red sex-link) and Chico (silkie rooster). Chicks usually hatch in 21 days but the bantams and bantam crosses sometimes hatch in 19 days.

The black chick is Gracie's own, actually there are two black chicks in the picture, the second is pecking seeds behind the first. I was trying to show how much bigger Marlene's chick is compared to Gracie's chicks. Gracie's are half the size of Marlene's but twice as cute.

One of the black chicks looks like he is part penguin with his white front. The black chicks are black cochin bantam (Gracie) crossed with white silkie (Chico). Some countries call cochin bantams Pekins. The chicks were hatching while I was there but sadly I had to leave before all hatched. They are all hatched now including the three from the fridge, so it is true you can use eggs from the fridge as long as they have not been in there too long. Just don't try to put cold eggs under the hen, let them reach room temperature first.

Only one brown egg did not hatch but it had a full term chick inside. Gracie was a great little mom, with Dan's mistake of taking four to five days to place all the eggs under, the first chicks were hungry while the last had not hatch yet. She would take the chicks out to eat and then sit on the nest to keep the eggs warm while watching her brood. This must be why cochins are the best mothers, my other bantams from my teen years would have left the remaining eggs to chill and die. However once six out of the seven hatched Gracie left the nest, she had to with six hungry chicks peeping for food. The chick that was left in the egg was black so we realized it was probably Lucy's and not one of the red girls. One other problem that could have happened is sometimes when a very small rooster like Chico, mates with a large hen like Lucy, the chick dies inside the egg because it is a small chick trying to get out of a big egg. Usually I never have a problem with the reverse, a large rooster mating with a small hen never gave me problems.

Anyway I received my smile, I have chicks! Total 5 little black Gracie/Chicos and one little reddish white Marlene/Chico. I tried the trick of picking them up to see if they drop their legs as little hens are suppose to, and little roosters should lift their legs. The Marlene chick drops it's legs all the time and the all black Gracie chick does as well, so they should turn out to be girls. The little black with the white tummy sticks one leg up in the air so I guess that means it could be a rooster, we will see. Enjoy spring time in your hen houses people.


Amri said...

Yay! Cute, fuzzy chicks! Don't you LOVE spring?!
Me too.

Anonymous said...

These photos are making me melt! I love the look on Gracie's face as she gazes at her babies. Isn't it wonderful? ENJOY!

amna said...

marvelous blogs..i truly enjoy reading and looking at these amazing babes of yours. I was born and raised up in the farm and had spent my happy younger days with farm animals, greeneries and fresh air. that's where my heart will always be..reading your blogs and seeing these pics brings back old memories. I can imagine taking care of them on winter time. Enjoy the good weather while it last..I live not too far from your place.

Tracey said...

That is fantastic! Amy will be so mad! She is desperate for chicks!!

Amy said...

Hey Steven. Thank you so much for your great comment.

I am really MAD about your little chicks, even though they are so gorgeous! My black silkie didnt get on great and none of her eggs hatched!!

Well done to gracie...hope you are keeping well.

Love Amy xx

nobody-but-us-chickens said...

Amri; me too, too! :D

Amy; Melt away, I know I do every time I get to see them. Gracie does seem to be a really good mother, very gentle with the chicks.

Amna; Thank you for the kind comments. I think the country never leaves a person, the city has good points as well but I guess it has to do with what a person wants out of life.

Tracey; Please tease Amy endlessly about how cute my chicks are! ;)

Amy: Well no problem, just get on a plane or boat, come on over and I will give you one! ;P
Don't worry, your hen will start to lay again and after a while she will probably try to hatch again. Next time you will be good and ready. Back in my younger days (not that I'm really old) one of my bantams used to have three batches of chicks over the spring and summer, your season is much longer than here so it may not be a loss for you.

Sunny said...

Good to see you posting again! I am so happy for you and your little chicken family. Nice to have such a great neighbor looking out after them, too! Your picures are great. I'm glad you mentioned the hatching time of bantams as I have one (well, half bantam)that started to set on 5- 26. Can't wait to see how she does...

John Gray said...

nice to have you back matey
look after those chicks