Bzzzz October 25th, 2010

I love my life. But there does seem to be quite a lot of it.

Between my job (not inherited that castle in Spain yet), keeping us well fed, tending the garden, the animals and ensuring the house doesn’t fill with dog hair like an enormous house-shaped pillow…well, the days are full. But I know you’re yearning for news about all the beasties here, so I present to you the Chicken Chronicles: The Reader’s Digest Version.

By the way, before I get too far along, this post is dedicated to my friend Gail, at Clay and Limestone. Not only did she offer the phrase Chicken Chronicles in comments about how she enjoys my chickens’ antics, she also manages to do all that life, garden, job stuff and blog too. My hat’s off to you, Gail!

First, Polish hen Edith went broody this summer. For those of you who are not chicken mammas and pappas, that means she decided motherhood was all she needed to fulfill her destiny in life. She took to her nest box and refused to budge. Well, I have a fairly laissez-faire policy when it comes to nature, so I figured, let’s see where this takes us.

Frankly, as laissez-faire can be, the whole thing was messy. Long story short, all the other hens added to Edith’s clutch so that she ended up trying to sit on about 15 eggs—an impossible task for a little Polish hen. To complicate matters, Tina Turner, a beautiful buff Polish hen, was swayed by Edith’s efforts and decided to hatch a batch of her own. She was easily dissuaded for a more carefree life among the motherless hens.

Back to Edith…After about three weeks it was clear that nothing was going to happen on the baby making front, so I took matters into my own hands. Actually, I took Edith into my own hands and took her off the eggs to get rid of them.

Voila! There was a chick under her!

Now, I will dip into the details just a bit here, even though this is the Reader’s Digest version. Edith is not the birth mother. T. Boone Chickens, our enormous rooster, does not do the wild thing with the Polish hens. I don’t know if it’s because he prefers the more full-figured hens or if the Polish girls are just too fast for him, but I’ve never seen him do the deed with one of the mop-headed girls. I suspect that the new chicken is from Dorthy or Meredith, our Easter egg chickens.

So…to get back to the story. Edith and her baby were separated so that the other chickens didn’t commit infanticide, as chickens will do. After a suitable and appropriate maternity leave Edith and her young were re-integrated back into the flock. It was an endearing sight to see her alerting the baby to bugs, tomato morsels and blueberry treats. At night she would sit with the baby under her. After the baby grew too large to sit on, she would put her wing protectively over the baby as they sat side-by-side.

Baby and Edith, his adoptive mum

The baby is now about 13 weeks old.

So far we’re calling the baby “Baby.” Clever, no?

The reason is that the baby will eventually be named Ricky or Lucy, names picked out by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. But one of the names has not yet stuck because I still don’t know if Baby is a Lucy or a Ricky. We should know in another month or so. But I will tell you this. Baby has really, really big feet like T. Boone Chickens. And Baby looks like a cross between Dorothy and Meredith, the Easter egg chickens. We will never know who the birth mother is without DNA testing.

Oh, and Baby loves Edith, his adopted and devoted mum. She is his true mum.

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Bzzzz May 22nd, 2010

Our hens lay a beautiful variety of eggs. The colors range from white to cream to brown to green to blue. The color is entirely dependent on the kind of chicken. The Polish hens lay the smallest eggs in creamy white and beige. The Easter Egg chickens lay medium sized eggs in green to blue hues. The Red Star and Black Star hens, bred for production, lay brown eggs. And they can really push out some monster eggs!

Until yesterday the largest egg I bothered to measure was 95 grams. Yesterday, one of the hens pushed out a 98 gram egg. To put that in perspective, think about the jumbo sized eggs you can buy at the grocery store. They are only about 71 grams.  This egg was a full 27 grams larger than a jumbo egg.

You know what I say? Poor hen! It’s no wonder I hear honking and yelling from the coop. That’s gotta hurt!

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