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! **