|Project by Radicalfarmergal||posted 1235 days ago||1944 views||1 time favorited||39 comments|
To raise chicks without an incubator, you have to watch your chickens until one turns “broody”. A hen is broody when she decides that she is going to remain on the nest until eggs hatch. This can be frustrating if you don’t want chicks or if you don’t have a rooster (eggs are not fertile), because the hen will simply stop laying eggs until she gives up and that can take weeks. During that time she will only rarely leave the nest to briefly eat or drink and she can lose quite a bit of weight. If you have a limited number of nest boxes, it can frustrate the other chickens, especially if that nest box was their favorite. (Yes, my hens will line up to use their favorite nest boxes, even when there are several seemingly identical nest boxes available.) It can also be frustrating when you have a rooster and you want chicks and none of your hens want to brood! Like gardening, raising chickens constantly reminds me to relinquish my illusions of control.
Luckily, we have a very gentle Black Australorp who became broody near the end of June. We made a nest for her in the barn and slipped eleven eggs under her. We did not use a light to check to see if the eggs were fertile, we just tried our luck. We provided food and fresh water very close to the nest so that she could still eat and drink without endangering the eggs and my sons would frequently bring her treats from the garden, such as grubs, beetles and raspberries. Twenty-one days later, we had three chicks; four more hatched the following day.
I took about 75 photos before I could get six that were somewhat decent pictures. The chicks do not remain still for the camera. I hope you enjoy them.
The bright yellow chick will be a Delaware/Buff Orpington Mix.
The buff colored chick will be pure Buff Orpington.
The five darker chicks will be a mix of Buff Orpington and either New Hampshire Red or Barred Rocks.
Although the photo is a bit unclear, I included the one where two chicks are sharing a Sea Buckthorn berry; they consider the berries to be a real treat.
Added in September, 2010
The chickens have grown so I thought it would be fun to post a few photos now that they are about two months old. This first photo makes me laugh. They look like I caught them planning some sort of mischief:
Eating, a favorite pastime:
The chicks are perching now:
My youngest son is working on taming and naming them all. In this photo, he is holding Rusty.
-- "To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." M. Gandhi