Never count your chickens before they hatch!

Well another interesting year with the chickens.  Last year we had only five chicks and they all turned out to be cockrels!  This year is not turning out to be very much better.  We have had four batches of eggs with a broody hen on each.  The first one – Madame la Pomme  just hatched one chick – Puffin.

Mme La Pomme and her chick - Puffin.

Mme La Pomme and her chick - Puffin.

The second hen – Cornflake – hatched one chick and then proceeded to trample all over it.  Georgina rescued the poor little thing and hand fed it for a few hours and then gave it back to its Mother – who proceeded to trample all over it again.  In desperation we popped it under the wing of our third hen  – Mrs Noah who was sitting and she – although somewhat surprised by having a chick appear so quickly when she had only been sitting a few days began to look after it.  The inevitable happened of course – having got a chick she waited for a couple of days and as none of the others hatched she got off them and let them go cold.  Still a bird in the hand is worth two in the egg we say!  This one is called Shirley.

Wait for me mama!

Wait for me mama!

Lastly we had Precious who was sitting on six eggs.  I was so hopeful and watched her everyday – taking her off the eggs for 10 minutes and letting her wander around.  Finally the day came and the eggs started to hatch.  On the Saturday morning she had four chicks with one egg still cracking – I didn’t know where the other egg had gone.

We had a food smoking course that day so I was busy and didnt tell George as it was going to be a surprise.  Finally we would have a hen with a ‘string’ of little chicks running behind her.  But Oh, when I went to see her at the end of the day three of the chicks had died and the fourth was about to die.  Only one remained – Lucky!  I was devestated and took the little chicks and buried htem in out ‘Pet garden’.  Lucky has been renamed Tatoe – due to her love of potatoes!

Precious with Tatoe in the ark.

Precious with Tatoe in the ark.

So this year we have three hens all with one chick each!  However  I am pretty sure now that Puffin is a hen and I am so hoping that the other two will turn out to be hens as well. 

Little tatoe!

Little tatoe!

Madame La Pomme has abandoned Puffin and has gone broody again so I have been to a friends and got six eggs from her hen house.  She has Black Rocks, Wyndots and Light Sussex.  Four of the eggs are a beautiful dark chocolate colour. 

Nougat - always looking for an opportunity. "Could it be that you hiding my lunch?"

Nougat - always looking for an opportunity. "Could it be that you hiding my lunch?"

As always I have my fingers crossed.  Will keep you posted.

I am the Big daddy!

I am the Big daddy!

Andy of course it terribly proud of them all!

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8 Responses to “Never count your chickens before they hatch!”

  1. hannzach Says:

    Hi, It’s really great to find another chicken blog. I’ve just started a blog on my chickens, and I’m still learning all the technical stuff at the moment. Your chickens sound lovely, I really like their names. When we only had a few chickens, my daughter named them all, but now we have to many to name.
    Melanie.

  2. steppingoff Says:

    Hi Melanie,
    Great to have you comment on the blog. I have to say I never used to like chickens much – thought they were rather stupid but now that we have our own I really love them. They are such characters – each one is different.
    When I saw the movie ‘Chicken Run’ I thought it was a great film – now I realise it was actually a docu-drama!

  3. hannzach Says:

    Hi,Yes I totally agree with you, they definately are comical, and have their own character. I’ve got a couple of hens that have become really tame, and I’ve been hand feeding them with a few sultanas, which they go mad for. I’ve also been told that they love mealworms, so I might try that next.
    Melanie.

  4. Deborah Woodcock Says:

    Hello! Nothing to do with the chicks (very cute they are though) and I am a few days behind, but just wanted to let you know that it was brilliant to hear you on Chris Evans show last week! Not having been that long since Sue and I were up doing Stepping Off course with you, my ears pricked up when I heard someone saying they were near Penrith in Shap. And then there you were, rattling your filing cabinet / smoker! You need to take him up on his offer and gets yourselves a longer slot on the show. You were fab, good on you!

  5. steppingoff Says:

    Thanks Debs.

    These things always seem a good idea at the time – one never really thinks about the fact that someone you know may be listening!

  6. Paul Godfrey Says:

    I have been keeping chickens for the table and for eggs for many years now, I have also been producing a lot of my on organic meats such as ham and sausages and would love to share my experiences

  7. mazza Says:

    my hens have a cockerell in with them we have witnessed him doing the deed(very rough)our broody hen has only hatched off 1 chick and abandoned all others how can we make sure thet the eggs we put under her are fertile?

  8. Stepping Off Says:

    Hi there,
    It is almost impossible to tell – some people put the eggs up to a candle to see if a chick is growing. I have given up bothering – the more you bother the hens the worse it is. They know what they are doing – soemtimes they throw eggs out of the nest after a few days as they know they are ’empty’ other times they will hatch 1 or 2 and then get off the others or throw them out of the nest a couple of days later. They seem to know what to do. I have always been told that if the chick doesn’t hatch or dies trying to get out it is because they are not strong enough to survive.
    We have had lots of clutches that only hatch one or two despite a very active cockerel! I have had one clutch this year where none of them hatched!
    Keep trying and better luck next time. Good luck.
    Jo

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