Have you ever heard of chicken math? It’s an affliction that causes must consternation between the chicken lover and said chicken lover’s spouse. You may remember that we started out with 12 red hens and by the time I came to my senses, we had 12 red hens + an accumulation of other chickens so that we gave away about 45 chickens sitting on about 90 eggs and we only had 7 chickens (5 full size hens, 1 bantam hen and 1 rooster) left. That was a great number for us.
Then, a few months ago, Tractor Supply had Chick Days and we ended up with 14 little Buckeyes. I’m thinking it will be towards the end of July before they start laying. The addition of the buckeyes made 21 but at least six of them will probably be roosters. We’re almost to the point of being sure which ones are, and some of those will have to be butchered. One Buckeye rooster is all we need so I’m guessing we’re going to end up with about 7 hens and one rooster, for a total of 15 chickens. I could live with that number.
Then . . the little black bantam hen wanted to be a mother. I resisted at first but finally gave in. I let her keep 6 eggs, one bantam egg and 5 full sized eggs. There are 3 full sized Dominique hens, one hen that’s a cross between a Dominique and our red hens and one black Australorp hen. The only rooster is the Dominique so I figured any of the full sized chicks would be good ones to have. I marked the eggs with a Sharpie because she has a way of convincing other hens to lay in her nest and before long, there would have been 40 eggs under her. Every day I’d go out there and have a knock down drag out fight with her so I could make sure there were no extra eggs under her. One day Vince got the eggs and he didn’t want to fight with her so he didn’t and the next day, there was a 7th egg under her so I said . . fine . . you keep it. I’m not risking cracking an egg and finding a surprise inside.
Everything was going great. I figured the eggs would begin hatching on May 10. Until . .
Yesterday I went out there and hen that’s a mix of red hen/Dominique had stolen little black bantam’s nest! Little black bantam hen was mad and upset and making all kinds of noise but hey . . what could I do about it. If the red/Dominique hen wanted to be a bully and steal someone else’s almost hatched eggs, there wasn’t much I could do. I could have taken all the eggs and put them in another coop, and put little black bantam hen in there by herself but then I would have to go to all the trouble of getting the new chicks integrated into the old coop and that’s more trouble than I’m willing to do so I just left them alone to work it out.
Yesterday morning when I went out there, little black bantam has started over. She had two eggs – full sized eggs – under her. I thought .. fine . . she can have two eggs and she can start over but then I thought . . that’s not fair. She’s been sitting on those eggs for 2 weeks and it just wasn’t right for the other hen to come in and take those eggs so a little before dark, Vince and I went out there and stole 2 eggs back from the big hen and pout them under the little black bantam. Now she has 4 eggs . . 2 that should hatch in about 5 days, 2 that should hatch in about 20 days but once the other two hatch, she’ll probably give up on the two newest ones. We’ll deal with that when it happens. I think she’ll be happy even if she only gets one baby.
It will be nice having two hens hatching eggs at the same time. If one is a bad mother, I’ll give the babies to the other mother.
It’s a crazy mixed up world when it comes to parenting . . even in the chicken coop.