To Be Or Not To Be ... A Chicken
A chicken decision without regrets, a true story for the chicken inspired.
- A New Beginning
- The Wait Begins
- A Christmas Surprise
- Whats Next
- Time Passes So Quickly
- Change The Blue To Pink
- Home Sweet Home
A New Beginning
While chickens can lay eggs year round, egg production dramatically decreases in the winter with fewer daylight hours. We have 2 Golden Seabright hens and 1 rooster to match, they are of the bantam family, they weigh in at only about 1-2 lbs and the eggs they lay are about 1/3 of the size of regular chicken eggs we see at the grocery store.
Last winter egg laying had stopped from these chickens, at least this is what I thought. So one crisp end-of-November morning, as I went out to feed the ckickens, low and behold to my surprise, there lie three eggs clustered together.
Now, normally, eggs are collected for our consumption. Now these chickens eggs are much smaller and normally with the two hens laying during summer season, I would collect 2 eggs per day, if not more. This would make it worth the while.
Now seeing these 3 tiny eggs, knowing there probably would not be more on any day soon, I wondered if I put them in an incubator, would they hatch? Well, I made my decision.
The Wait Begins
Out came the incubator. Now hatching eggs in an incubator is not rocket science, but there are a few preparations to start. Now the model I have not only turns the eggs on trays, but it has a fan inside to move the heated air produced from a heating element on top of the contraption.. These are mechanical parts. Well, the next step was to be sure it even worked, I'm sure it did, but who knew. With a touch of hesitation, I took the plug, headed for the outlet andI plugged it in.
Yea, I could hear the motor for the egg turning trays, I could feel a bit of warmth from the heating element and the fan was turning. I was a happy camper. I placed the thermometer in a location where I could see it clearly from one of the two clear plastic windows on top, placed a small bowl of water inside (part of the incubation process is to keep the air not only warm, but moist as well), and so gently placed those eggs (point side down of course) in the ole heater box, and the waiting begins.
I placed the incubator in the back room so that the ambient temperature would remain the same. With the cold winter air and doors being open in the main room, this could cause temperature variances within the inclubator itself. The temperature should remain at around 99 to 102 degrees constantly. Chicken eggs incubate and hatch, give or take, in about 21 days.
At the beginning, each day I would religiously check those eggs. I would check the water level, the temperature, and the mechanical workings of the box itself. I was on it. I was excited Almost like a new science project, not knowing what to expect.
Sure enough, 21 days go by. Then 22. Then 25. I thought, well, this is not a perfect science, I'd give it a few more days. My hopes were slim.
A Christmas Surprise
Well Christmas was within the week and everyone was busy shopping and decorating and cooking and celebrating, we all know how that is. My little chicken eggs were not a top priority these past few days, I still checked on them, but not with the enthusiasm I had when I started.
Christmas eve was finally upon us. We had a wonderful get-together with family, traditional sing-alongs, trimmed more of the tree (it was already up, but it never ends) and finally everyone settled down for the night to awake to the big day tomorrow.
Well, before I turned in for the night, I decided to check on my little eggs. With amazement and a renewed excitment, one of the eggs had started cracking, oh my, it was hatching!
Well, I was all over this. I was excited. But low and behold, it did not occur to me that I needed some type of brooder for this little chick. It did not take long for this itty bitty little chicken to crack through. My gosh, I swear it was the size of my thumbnail. I might have been able to let it stay in the incubator for the night, but it was so small, the inclubator was so big and with all those moving parts...no way.
So out came the homemade ingenuity. I took a box, lined it with linen towels, placed one of my clamp lights with a 60 watt bulb securly on the inside and put that little wobbly guy inside. Keeping them warm right after hatching and until they are completely feathered is so very important. I placed a flat dish with some water and ground up a bit of chicken crumbles to teeny tiny beak size and put some on the bottom. I was just amazed, once he got his little self up, he was already eating.
After about an hour of watching and gloating, I finally felt secure enough with this set up to let him be. What a wonderful Christmas present. I couldn't have asked for anything better than a new life. I went to bed.
Time Passes So Quickly
Well this little chicken did well. He grew, and grew. He became fairly tame to hands as I would stick my hand in the box daily, pick him up, clean him up and so forth. I decided at this point that I needed to change his environment. I placed him inside a 10 gallon aquarium with basically the same set up. Now I can see him, he can see me, all is well.
As time passed, he became quite used to being handled as I could not pass him by without picking him up and cuddling him. He grew.
Well the time finally came where he did not need the direct heat any longer and keeping him in the tank was becoming fairly messy. The time had come to move on up and I found him a cage with a flat bottom.
Why didn't I just put him outside you ask, well I was just fond of this little guy. It was still cold out and all. I know he is just a chicken, but he was my Christmas present you know.
Change The Blue To Pink
Well as time passed and he grew, it became apparant the "he" was a "she" my "little chicken" was in fact my chicken little. I would carry her around with me and she didn't mind. She was OK in her cage and would settle down at night and sleep. But the time finally came where I thought it was time to introduce her to "outside".
I took her in my arms and decided to go out back and place her on the grass. I thought perhaps it was time for her to be a chicken and do what chickens do, eat some bugs, scratch the ground, etc. Well to my surprise, not only did she freak out, she nearly jumped back into my arms. She wanted nothing to do with "outside". She was perfectly happy with her little life in her little home safe and secure.
It was warmer now, the sun was up longer and one morning I heard the noise. A strange sound from Chicken, nothing I had heard before. I went to check on her and to my surprise, there it was...her first egg.
I thought by now I would introduce her to the other chickens, they were in breeding cages now and I decided to place her in with the others. Oh my my. This did not go so well. She was not happy with this, not one bit. I let her stay in there, a whopping 2 days and that was it. She wanted out. She did not want anything to do with these strange creatures, she didn't want to be "outside", she wanted out and by all means she let me know.
So what to do with you now.
Home Sweet Home
Well I guess that was that, she didn't know she was a chicken, I suppose she didn't care. She just wanted to be back home in her safe and secure cage with food and water there and me just an inch away. She only laid two eggs after that and none since.
She started to outgrow this cage and one day I decided it was time for her to sit with me, outside the cage, on her own. I sat her on my desk with me and there she stayed. One of the downfalls was lunch time, if I ate a sandwich, I had better give her a piece. This became the thing to do during the day, although I still put her in the cage at night.
Time passed and some changes came about. I would let her move around, she pecked at things and explored, but she never went far. More and more she stayed out of the cage, I finally put her on the screened porch in a large "coop". She was unsure of this, but explored. I finally left her "outside" in the coop overnight.
She did OK. The day finally came when I just opened the coop and allowed her to come and go as she pleased. It took a few days for her to come out on her own, but she finally did. She explored new surroundings and pecked at bugs. She wasn't sure what to do at night so I placed a box on top of a high cabinet outside on the screened porch and put her in it for the night. That was all she needed.
Today, she is in and out of the house all day. She comes to me when I call her. If I eat a sandwich, she is up on my lap begging. She will follow me and talk to me all day and come nightime she trots on out to the porch as she has found a few different roosting spots outside. on the porch at night. I wouldn't change a thing.
The moral to this story, I am not sure. I was blessed with a little life, cared for and love her and I feel like I get love in return. She is only a chicken you know, but don't tell HER that.