Adventures in Hatching Eggs

by Daisy

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We have one hen, Idee, who goes broody at least twice a year.  That’s her, in the middle, with the floppy comb.

Like many of her breed, Buff Orpington, she is a dedicated sitter of unfertilized eggs, or of nothing, usually, because we remove the eggs every day.  Week after week of concerted devotion to something only her DNA knows, as Idie hasn’t been near a cockerel since she left the hatchery as a day-old ball of fluff.

Idee was broody, again.  Our flock is beginning to age a bit, and we could use a few more eggs, so I took a chance and ordered a dozen hatching eggs.  In a few days, I picked them up at the post office.  They looked very official.

Inside the outer box and beneath lots of crumpled newspaper was a second box, an egg carton.

And inside the carton, 12 eggs, each marked with a breed code and wrapped in soft paper napkins.

With a cheat sheet to decipher the codes.

According to the code, we had been sent 3 each Pumpkin Hulseys, Barnevelders and Silver Laced Wyandottes, 2 Rhode Island Reds, and one Lavender Orpington.  The instructions said to leave them undisturbed for 12 -24 hours before placing them in the incubator (or under the hen), so I had plenty of time to look up the breeds on the internet to see what I was (potentially) in for.

The next morning I placed them under Idee, who made lots of gutteral warning sounds, but covered those babies up and continued to sit tight.

We marked off 21 days on a calendar, the length of time it takes eggs to hatch, and watched and waited.  Would she hold out the whole three weeks?  Would she know how to do it?  Were the eggs good ‘uns?  If any hatched, would she know what to do with “her” chicks?

Would Lance discover that Ashley is still carrying a torch for Brandon?

Stay tuned for the next development on . . .

All My Chickens.


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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

kay June 10, 2012 at 8:57 am

i love this site. i also live in collierville and am considering getting 3 chickens.
i really am undecided at this point as i do not want a lot of static from neighbors.
i previously lived in the country and had several chickens. Raccoons ate several
and i had a lot of trouble with them. no matter how many i killed, they will bring a new batch in. i do not want racoons bothering my chickens and i have seen quite a few in collierville, in my area. do u have any suggestions of raccoon proofing my back yard to keep them away from the chickens. my yard is not large, i cannot afford a smelly area nor do i want one. thanks

Beth Wall June 10, 2012 at 9:11 am

LOVE LOVE this site….Deanna, you are so funny!! Where did you order your hatching eggs from?

Daisy June 10, 2012 at 9:18 am

Beth Wall–Thank you, Beth! I got them from My Pet Chicken. It’s where I got my day olds a few years ago and I’ve been happy with my hens, so I thought stick with a known entity.

Daisy June 10, 2012 at 9:23 am

kay–Glad you like the site! Thank you! I will let Deanna speak on the part about Collierville and I’ll tell you what I do to protect mine. I keep them in a big enclosed run connected to their coop. There are boards around the bottom and I haven’t had any problem with racoons, although we do have many in the neighborhood. Some people bury the enclosure wire several inches to keep them from digging under, but I haven’t had to do that. Mine also has a wire “roof” to keep the hawks away. They swoop down, but can’t get in.

Corinne June 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I can’t wait for the next installment! It all sounds so magical to me, receiving birds in the mail. Kind of Harry Pottery-ish….

Virginia P. June 11, 2012 at 2:32 am

This is the first post that made me really NEED to comment!
I can hardly wait to hear future installments of how Idee does with her adopted babies! It is so touching to think this little chick has gone her whole life wanting nothing more than to be a mother, and now she’s getting the chance. I wonder if she’ll be surprised at the variety of colors and types her new babies will be? I wonder if she’ll think the Egg Fairy left them in her nest for having been a good chicken?

I hope your flock grows well and healthily, and KEEP US POSTED! 😀

Carol Durusau June 11, 2012 at 5:21 am

We have 4 three week old chicks that hatched from under our first broody hen. Now we have another setting. We do have a rooster so no need for ordering eggs. We’ve had this set of chickens for a little more than a year and this is the first time we’ve had a hen go broody. She has done very well, so far. They are in the pen with the others. We did not have any other place that would work to put them. Good luck with your broody.

Beth Wall June 11, 2012 at 6:40 am

ok….sorry…Daisy!! YOU are so funny love the “soapish” last part of your blog above!!! and Thanks for the info!!

Doug A. June 11, 2012 at 7:59 am

Our black australorp from last year’s hens went broody in May. Similar to you, we don’t have a rooster, so we kept collecting the eggs. The hen sat there for 3 weeks before we decided to do something. I went to buy a dozen fertilized guinea eggs and he gave me 18. I stuck them under our broody hen and she has been a good foster mother so far. She has sat on them for 25 days now. Supposed to hatch this week. If not, we have a bunch of rotten guinea eggs and I’m going to have to break her from the broodiness. Six weeks isn’t healthy for her to be broody.

Andrea June 11, 2012 at 8:57 am

What a teaser you’ve left for us today. My question is: Did you give her all 12 to incubate? Or did your research lead you to leave out a couple. If that is the case, I’d be interested to know which didn’t make the cut. We, non-chicken people, were given 4 chicks at Easter time (Our benefactors had a dog that wanted to put an end to them) and they are now in their coop and happily growing into 3 hens and 1 He (we think) Mine are buff orpington, Rhode Island Red (Or red sexlink, we aren’t quite sure) Barred Rock, and Auracana. What fun animals they are, who knew chickens could be so entertaining. I look forward with great anticipating to watching this saga unfold.

Portia McCracken June 11, 2012 at 9:24 am

Such a wonderful post. You have us as all hooked! I can’t wait to see the next installment. Idee sounds like she’ll make a wonderful surrogate mom, so I’m sure any chicks that hatch will thrive. How fun, and thanks for making my day!

Jenna June 12, 2012 at 10:29 am

I started following Little House a couple weeks ago and I’m already very intrigued by all your little happenings!

Great play on soap operas here – very witty! I didn’t know that you could buy eggs to hatch in the mail (don’t be surprised, I’ve only recently started doing research into chickens).

Are they only available during certain times of the year? I live in northern Maine – would it be possible to order eggs year round, or would the cold affect that?

Daisy June 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

Jenna–There is a lot to learn! But chickens really can be low-stress pets. To hatch chicks under a broody hen, you have to wait for the hen to go broody, which is most likely to be in fair weather. Since most hens stop laying from about Halloween to Valentine’s Day, fertile eggs will be less available then. It makes sense to follow nature’s formula of spring/summer hatching. Even if you use an incubator, the chicks need to be kept warm in a brooder a few weeks until they are feathered out, but the warmer it is outside, the sooner you can let them into the run.

Leah June 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Love this! Looks like you got a good mix of chickens…good luck on your hatch! I’m looking forward to the update! Will you be candling them along the way?

Laura June 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

My word, Idee looks like my ‘Tillie, who is broody as I write! ‘Tillie does the exact same thing, and… I’ve thought about tucking some eggs under her every time she gets in the ‘family way!’ LOL

I am excited to learn if Idee is able to sit long enough for Ashley to carry the torch all the way to Brandon!

Do keep us posted… this is great.

Melissa June 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Love this!!! I can’t wait for the next installment!

Jessica June 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

When she hatches them out, you will see the proudest hen ever! Have fun!

Sally June 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I have a question. We have 7 hens – 4 Plymouths, 2 Missouri 365s, and one RIR. None of them have gone broody. If I bought laying eggs, would one protect them, or would they just go rotten? I’d love to have chicks, but we finally had to get rid of our rooster – too mean.

Daisy June 14, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Sally–You have to have a broody hen, unfortunately. They won’t set eggs until they are good and ready!

Dawna June 16, 2012 at 5:46 am

Eagerly awaiting the next episode of “All My Chickens”

Jennifer July 9, 2012 at 10:25 am

Absolutely love reading the ideas and adventures on here. I am so excited when I open my inbox and find an email from you all. I am awaiting a package of eggs also. My “bator” is already full with serama eggs and bantam orpington eggs. I loved the story of the Broody hen.

Janae July 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I am so jealous! I would love to raise chickens for eggs! But we live in a small village with close neighbors. I am not sure that it is allowed and even if it was, I think that my neighbors would hate me.

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