Pulled all my feathers out. Check. Pooped all over my new eggs? Check. Broke an egg so all the other eggs got sticky and stuck to my belly? Check and check.
After week 1 of sitting on $40 worth of fertilized eggs, Josephine and I are both ready to focus our attention on things that are easier than hatching eggs. Like building a rocket. Or toasting a marshmallow without setting it on fire.
2 weeks ago I hopped in my car and drove an hour and a half to Barb Dodington's farm. I heard about Barb from Dr. Mark. She's a chicken breeder and shows her chickens regularly. More importantly she shows her chickens and wins regularly. She specializes in Silkies, Copper Marans and Ameraucanas. Since I was looking for an "Olive Egger" this worked out perfectly for me.
I like to have hens that all look different who all lay different coloured eggs. An Olive Egger is a chicken that lays a (hopefully) dark olive coloured egg. You get an "Olive Egger" by crossing a chicken that lays a very dark brown egg (Copper Marans) with a chicken that lays a light green egg (an Ameraucana). Since Barb had both these breeds I was off to the races. Or Mennonite country more specifically.
After a quick tour of her farm on a ridiculously cold June day (like go home make a pot of chili, light the fire and dig out the flannel kind of cold) I bought 8 eggs, asked her as many questions as I could think of with a partially frozen brain and headed home.
The first thing I did was set Josephine up in to a broody pen like Dr. Mark recommended, away from the other chickens but still around them so they all stayed used to each other.
Then I gave her some mite medication because broody hens tend not to do a lot of bathing. Or eating or sleeping or drinking.
Josephine will get .25 cc of mite control dripped onto the back of her neck once a week until she's out of broody mode and bathing again.
You just squeeze it onto the skin of her neck.
Next up? Putting some dummy eggs under her to make sure she will indeed want to sit on them.
I used 6 of my own, unfertilized eggs. All I did was stick them in the pen with her and hoped by the time I checked on her in an hour or so she'd have tucked them all under her.
As it turns out I didn't have to wait more than 30 seconds. She started shoving them under her belly immediately. So I knew I could put the fertilized eggs under her and she'd sit on them. Good. Excellent. Let's do that then. Once I do that my job will be over and I can move onto other things in my life like pondering how it's possible I woke up the other night with kitty litter in my ear.
The eggs I put under Josephine. They're light green eggs from an Olive Egger mama. The father is a Splash Copper Marans (Josephine happens to be a Black Copper Marans).
What I should get from these eggs are Splash chickens that lay darker olive coloured green eggs.
Although not the splash part. The splash gene is definite. All the chicks will be splash.
This is what a Splash Marans looks like.
So that was it. Stick the eggs under Josephine and it was gonna be smooth sailing. But it was not to be. I may never have the time to figure out why I woke up with kitty litter in my ear because from day 1 there's been trouble in the hen house.
Day 3 Josephine got poop all over 2 of her eggs. Yes. She must have had some sort of accident.
So I brought them inside wiped them off with a dry towel (cleaning fertilized eggs is bad because you're washing the natural protective bloom off of them, but poop on them is even worse so I had to choose). I chose to wipe on the advice of Barb.
Then I marked the eggs so I knew which ones had been pooped on and cleaned, put them back under Josephine and hoped for the best. Surely one little issue wasn't going to ruin my chances of getting a healthy little girl chick. That's all I want! One, healthy, little girl chick.
Josephine flattened herself out onto her eggs and got up regularly to poop and eat once a day until she didn't. After a couple of days of her not getting out I thought I'd better check on her. Again.
This time she'd broken an egg which was now sticky and hot and stuck to her belly. Therefore the eggs that were under her were also sticky and hot and stuck to her belly. No wonder she hadn't got up to poop. Her eggs were hanging off her belly like massive nipples.
Once again, I took them inside, checked them over, determined no other ones were broken, and gently wiped away what I could. 6 out of the 7 remaining eggs were covered in egg yuck.
This is a great blog for people to read if they're interested in getting chickens because for me, if it can go wrong with a chicken it will go wrong. I'm like the Charlie Brown of chicken owners.
I found the broken egg on Day 7 of incubation which was also the day I wanted to check to see if they were growing so I took the opportunity to quickly check to see what was happening inside the eggs.
This is what an unfertilized, random egg looks like. It's one of Cheez Whiz's eggs actually.
Perfectly clear inside when you candle it.
THIS is what one of my day 7 eggs looks like.
When you're candling eggs what you want to look for are little veins (a good sign) and a ring of darker material around the dark portion of the egg (a bad sign). It's the blood line, which means the chick has died.
At this point I can't see much of anything so I decide to just put all the eggs back under Josephine and hope for the best.
Besides, I wanted to see her "tuck her eggs". If you've never seen a chicken tucking her fertilized eggs under her it's a gymnastic feat to behold. Definitely worthy of a 10 from the Russian judge.
A chicken makes herself as big and flat as she can to cover up the eggs. She turns into pancake chicken.
The eggs are still under her, she's jumping out to poop, eat and drink and so far there hasn't been anything else to give me heart palpitations. I'll check on the eggs again in a few days and let you know what's happening under there.
Just one, little, healthy girl hen. That's all I want.
Well that and an explanation for the whole kitty litter in the ear thing.
Have a good weekend!
Update: ** I checked the eggs again the next night with a stronger flashlight and they're doing great! **
Interesting post. I'm thinking it was a good thing we didn't get that house on the hill so I could have chickens. I'm sure it is all worth it but, I'm afraid I wouldn't be as good a chicken mommy as you! The video was great...especially the end of it. Wiggle Wiggle, is that a new chicken dance?
Yea --then one day you realize you should have just bought the damn pullets cause all you hatched are cockerals! All the time and worry and no hens ;(
OOh! So exciting!
Go Josephine! Go Karen!
Keep us posted!
No Soccer Moms here!!
Good Luck to all you Poultry Moms!!!
Haha, just watched Josephine trying to fit all the eggs underneath her, and found myself encouraging and gently trying to help her. Didn't know I liked chickens but I love watching and learning about your girls.
This is so exciting, Karen! Best of luck with hatching and keep us posted on progress. I hope your trials are rewarded with at least one beautiful splash hen.
Oh my heavens, did your parents never tell you that you have to "LEAVE THE DOOR SHUT OR THEY WILL NEVER GET DONE."
Stop harassing that poor hen. The eggs will either hatch.. or they won't hatch, but pestering them won't help at this point. Seriously, you know I love you, K, but leave 'em alone for a week or two, huh? It's not like you'll do an autopsy if they don't hatch. But yeah, stop touching and let that poor feathery-girl be.
How would you like it if you were sitting on a bunch of someone else's eggs that magically materialized and someone kept looking/reaching under your skirt. (Although I mighta paid money to see those egg 'nipples')
Well missy. According to the poultry vet Dr. Mark. you should check on them day 7 and 14 or there abouts to make sure none of them are dead and going rotten. Yup. So that's what I'm doing. The video was from when she hopped off her eggs to eat and have a ginormous poo.
Yeah, I still say leave 'em alone. Didn't you ever see a wild nest/animal/kitten and your mother said (although Betty... hmmm, strains my imagination) "Leave them alone or she will stop feeding/nursing/start scratching them to death."
If they rot, it seems unlikely they'll explode so fast. They just won't hatch. Whereas if you keep picking 'em up, to trot 'em in for a little peekaboo with the candling kit..
As problem-prone as this has been, I'd be watching out for banana peels and road runners with anvils high above on clifftops.
ah ha ha! FarmKid Marti so funny and YASSSSS! I agree with ur assessment but was too scared to say it. I've had broody free range hens sneak off & fill hidden nests behind the wood pile with 15 fertilized eggs that I didn't even know were there until two weeks in and she successfully hatched 12 of the 15! A couple were duds that didn't hatch and one got smooshed, but there was no exploding
Yes. I agree. I'm so silly. I don't know why I didn't think to ask Marti the journalist as opposed to Mark the poultry vet for chicken advice. ;) ~ karen!
Since I've said many times that I know nothing about chickens so I just enjoy reading these posts but have nothing to contribute, I expected this time to be the same. In fact, I almost mentioned that it seemed that Josephine had been given too big a task to brood so many eggs at once, and then I realized that was a statement based on nothing but my own ignorant observation and refrained. But I'm casting a vote, unsolicited though it is, with FarmkidMarti. Isn't checking and candling and generally hovering over the eggs going to just make Josephine figure she did not sign up for this kind of harassment and decide to call it quits? Or cause her stress that can result in her not doing things properly?
Of course Dr. Mark is an authority, but then, I'm guessing Dr. Mark has never borne children himself, so it might not have occurred to him that a female trying to do that activity is going to be just a little testy and even forlorn with someone messing around. I realize I'm a mammal and Josephine is not, but maternal instincts seem to pretty much be similar across many species.
If I were you I'd defer to Dr. Mark's wisdom, but I'm me and I feel more empathy for Josephine. And I wish her (and you) much success at producing a healthy baby girl.
LOL. No. Josephine's fine. You're supposed to check the eggs. Not everyone does, but I choose to. Plus ya know ... Dr. Mark being a vet and chicken owner and poultry judge and helped me nurse Cuddles through 2 years of illnesses and all. :) It's noooo problem. I pull them out around midnight when she's half asleep. After day 18 you shouldn't move the eggs because everyone is getting into position for hatching. I checked days 7 and 14 and that's it until they're hatch! ~ karen!
A Big Flat Chicken..lol..good girl Josephine!
Each time, you're getting more into the whole chicken thing. Great reading about all your adventures, cos it's something I will not do...too much work!
i really hope you get your olive green egg laying splattered chicken, and soon!
It's actually coming up soon. Can't wait! ~ karen
I couldn't resist the charm bracelets for your girls!
Since the questions have been asked, and the cheerleading has begun-I don't have too much to add. However, I think that grey chicken is stunning, the colors and shades are just amazing. So if that is what Josephine is aiming to hatch, then wow! And, one more thing-because of having read your blog for so long, I have now become that much smarter about caring for my beloved bunny. It turns out flystrike and other ailments that are affiliated with chickens also affect rabbits. So thank you fo} all the lessons Karen. <3
Am I the only one who totally wants you to dub a British voice in there when the one egg pops out saying "For F*&Ks sake!"...? =)
When you found the eggs stuck to her cause of the broken one (ouch), how did you get them off of her?
I would think hosing her down with warm water till they released, but, I'm almost certain, that is not right, for multiple reasons. lol.