JOSEPHINE IS HATCHING EGGS & NEARLY DOES A SOMERSAULT.

pulling-out-feathers

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.

fertilized-Olive-Egger-eggs

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.

In-broody-pen

Then I gave her some mite medication because broody hens tend not to do a lot of bathing.  Or eating or sleeping or drinking.

mite-control

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.

 

mite-control-on-broody-hen

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.

dummy-eggs

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.

 

on-eggs

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.

 

eggs

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.

Hypothetically.

Although not the splash part.  The splash gene is definite. All the chicks will be splash.

splash

This is what a Splash Marans looks like.

 

broody-hen-2

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.

Poopy-eggs

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.

poop

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.

broody-flat

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.

 

Unfertilized-regular-egg

Perfectly clear inside when you candle it.

 

day-7

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! **

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53 Comments

  1. robert says:

    She looks beautiful, congratulations on your future baby chickens. BTW I just realized I don’t have a photo with my comments, Why?

  2. j says:

    Whoopie!! I’m first!!

  3. j says:

    Silly Apple–fooled me-but some day I will be first! Night all.

  4. I just put my fertile eggs under my broody this morning. So far, so good. I went with frizzle cochins – here’s hoping we each get a healthy little girl chick!

  5. Melissa says:

    Here’s hoping for your little girlie chicken soon!! This makes me very excited to get started with being a chicken owner, contrary to your troubles! And I’m not EVEN gonna ask about that kitty litter…..

  6. Bobbles says:

    I hope you and Alisa Kester both get the girls you’re hoping for!
    And I read religiously about your chickens because I hated having chickens (I’m possibly dirt-a-phobic) when I was a kid and every time I read about mites and chicken poop and bathing in dirt, I remember why! Just keep reminding me!

  7. Chrissie Vergoglini says:

    Another reason why chickens are wonderful!

  8. Hazel says:

    I’m the proud mum (granny??) to 2 ducklings and counting (3 eggs still underneath Hermione the Muscovy duck). The ducklings will all be Saxony X, but could be crossed with an Aylesbury, 2 types of Runner duck, Muscovy or a Welsh Harlequin, so who knows what we’ll get.
    They’re very cute though. Cuter than chicks. Sorry Josephine, but it’s true.

    • Cred says:

      Hey Hazel, I have ducks, too and am smitten. We have Cayuga and Welsh Harlequin- both breeds have a calm demeanour.
      While I do think chicks are just as cute as ducklings and some chicken breeds are beautiful. After experiencing ducks and chickens, I will never have chickens again. Ducks can be a little dumb but aren’t mean like chickens. An aquaintence’s chickens killed her broody duck while she was sitting on her eggs- very sad.
      Good luck with Hermione and her ducklings!

  9. Rene Walkin says:

    I love your blog! My daughter has just started keeping chickens in Mallorca and she loves them-says it’s her peaceful time when she goes to take them out of the coop and put them back in again at night. She has a red one that rides on her shoulder as well as the baby in a back sling-so cute!

  10. Paula says:

    This is so exciting! Fingers crossed. If you get more than one girl and you don’t want them all, I will buy one or two from you. 🙂 I need to reintegrate my now healthy chicken into the ‘flock’ (3 chickens) and from what I have read, it is easier with a new chicken.

  11. Catt in Kentucky says:

    Fun (and informative) chicken out. Loved the video.

  12. Olga says:

    Seriously o think I felt few grey hair growing through while reading your post lol. I have one broody chicken we named her Powder but now I call her Dummy. Because she really is a dummy
    She sits in a coop all the time unless I take the eggs out. Then she walks around 2 minutes stretches her legs and back in the coop. All the other chickens living happy life. Making friends and she is like that “dummy in the corner on her cell phone”. Needless to say we had 116F on Monday and she spent all day in a coop. I thought she just going to die. Then I thought I’m going to die. Then we still end up with one dead chicken: o (

  13. Shannon C says:

    Would you be willing to explain more about your mite treatments and do you routinely deworm? We’re still learning this chicken gig…we have 2 RIR bantams, 1 dominecker, 1 Americauna, 1 olive Egger, 1 brahma and 1 golden comet- the last 3 are still babes. It would be so helpful to hear if we’re doing this thing the best way. Thanks and best of luck to you!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shannon C! That sounds like a good question for Dr. Mark. 🙂 I don’t regularly de-mite or de-worm. I’ve only had mites (all chickens have mites, but an outbreak is what you need to be afraid of) once treated the coop and the chickens with a powder which cleared everything up. I’ll send the idea to an “overall health’ question to Dr. Mark. 🙂 ~ karen!

  14. Jenny W says:

    Might I just add, that I LOVE that you use a Gold Sharpie to write on your eggs 🙂

  15. Eileen says:

    How come a chicken looks adorable with great feathery legs…but humans with hairy ones…notsomuch?
    Fingers / toes…all crossed for the baby you are so hoping for!
    And: kitty litter is actually an alien life form – it is on a mission to take over, starting with the brains of funny, creative, chicken-owning bloggers.

  16. Ann says:

    Sometime Monday or Tuesday I am hoping for 2 new baby chicks to hatch out. Trouble is, I have 2 broody hens sharing the nest duties with those 2 lonely eggs. We did have 4 under them but somehow 2 eggs went away. No sign of them anywhere. All I can think of is somehow I reached under them to take out the eggs being laid by other chickens and accidentally too, although they were marked just like yours!!

    Of course 3 days after they are supposed to hatch out, I have to leave town. Hopefully I will see that the mommas have taught them to eat and drink well enough in those 3 days and also see how well they share duties. One hen went broody a bit after the other so maybe that hen will continue to sit on the nest while the 1st mother’s the chicks.

    Of course I could get nothing! I did not candle and if they are not hatched out by the time I leave on Friday morning, I will toss them very very very far away!

    • Karen says:

      Ha! Yeah. FAR. My other chicken Mabel (also a Marans) is ALSO broody now. I was thinking of putting a few of the eggs under her on day 17. Then she’d only have to sit for a few days and BAM have chicks, lol. ~ karen!

  17. Suzanne says:

    Oops. Post not showing any comments on iPad, as black background for the first time. : (

  18. Ann Brookens says:

    I love reading about your chickens; it makes me so glad I don’t own any! Maybe because I grew up in the country and spent my youth taking care of dogs, cats, sheep, pigs, ponies, ducks, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, turtles, monkeys, raccoons, …hmmm, did I leave anything out? Oh. And 4 younger siblings. No chickens, though!

  19. Diane R. says:

    Update: ** I checked the eggs again the next night with a stronger flashlight and they’re doing great! HAPPY DANCE…can’t wait to see the chics. How long does it take for the eggs to hatch?

  20. Kat says:

    I have no idea why I like reading your chicken posts so much. I am a renter and will never get to have my own chickens. But every time you post about them I loose all touch with reality and dream of having my own. Thanks for keeping us all updated.
    P.S. Thanks for sending me the top 10 list for new readers. I actually saved it and have gone back to a couple of those posts.

  21. Melissa in NC says:

    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?

  22. Kim K. says:

    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 ;(

  23. Gretchen Sexton says:

    OOh! So exciting!
    Go Josephine! Go Karen!
    Keep us posted!

  24. Dale says:

    No Soccer Moms here!!

    Good Luck to all you Poultry Moms!!!

  25. Pat Gouche says:

    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.

  26. Cred says:

    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.

  27. FarmKid Marti says:

    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’)

    • Karen says:

      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.

      • FarmKid Marti says:

        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.

        • Stephanie says:

          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

          • Karen says:

            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!

  28. Grammy says:

    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.

    • Karen says:

      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!

  29. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    A Big Flat Chicken..lol..good girl Josephine!

  30. Miriam Mc Nally says:

    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!

  31. Dagmar says:

    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

  32. Joules says:

    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!”…? =)

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