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Chicken Math

At last count we have 26 hens, 3 roosters, and 11 turkeys here at the farm, and I think I recall saying a couple of months ago that we didn’t need to add any more chickens to the flock for a while. Then one day I stumbled upon a hidden stash of eggs in the bushes, which got me to thinking that I could use that stash of eggs to encourage a hen to go broody and hatch out some chicks, and that is just one of the many ways that chicken math strikes again! For you non-chicken enthusiasts, chicken math is the funny way that no matter how many chickens you tell yourself you are going to buy, or hatch, or keep, somehow it always ends up being more than you planned because they are so darned irresistible. Of course we don’t really need any more chickens, but we do have a few ladies that lay really beautiful eggs and it’s always nice to have those beautiful pastel green and very dark brown eggs in the egg basket. Before we could hatch out some eggs, we’d need a willing momma to be. So I took the stash of eggs from the bushes, put them in one of the nest boxes, and waited for someone to step up to the task of setting eggs. Then I waited. It took about a week, and several eggs were broken as they sat in the nest box day after day as the chickens came and went and laid their new eggs in with the old eggs. Eventually Henny, one of Ramon’s ladies, began sitting in the nest box around the clock. After two days, when she appeared to be truly committed to the task, I removed the old eggs, which by now were probably diminishing in their likelihood of hatching.

Rosie, an Easter Egger chicken, and one of our original 5R Farm ladies lays my favorite green eggs of our several green egg layers. We hatched some of Rosie’s eggs two years ago, and her daughter Rosalie lays an almost identical lovely green egg. At six years old, Rosie is getting up there in age, so I wanted to try to hatch some more of her eggs before she slows down in the egg laying department. It’s possible that her eggs may not be that fertile anymore, so I also included several of her daughter Rosalie’s eggs as back-up. I picked out a few of the darkest of the dark brown Marans eggs to round out the batch of hatching eggs I planned to give Henny. That night, I slipped the new eggs under Henny, being pecked mercilessly by her swift beak the entire time. Henny is not one of our friendliest hens to put it nicely, but I think she will be a good momma due to her high ranking in the flock. If history is any indication, Henny’s chicks will be just as bossy as the chickens that our Alpha hen, Raquel, raised a two years ago. The upside to that is that bossy and bold chickens tend to do well for themselves, and as long as we get some layers of colorful eggs out of the deal, it will be worth a little attitude from the ladies.

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