Lessons Learned

This is the first time I have allowed hens to raise chicks and since we had the predator enter the chicken tractor, it seemed prudent to allow the hens to remain in the coop in a nesting box until the chicks started hatching and the chicken tractor was made more secure.  That said, the 3 hens began hatching the day I was repairing the chicken tractor, so I put a crate in front of the hen that was hatching to protect her from the other hens and the overly aggressive Americauna cockrell.  At the end of the morning, once the tractor was repaired, I moved her and her remaining eggs.  She quickly lost interest in the eggs and moved the chicks out of the nesting box until nightfall.  As a result, her remaining two eggs did not hatch out.  I didn’t break them to see if they were viable, just tossed them in the compost bin.  Knowing that the other hens were a day or two behind, I left the crate and a board nearby, so that I could secure those hens as well.  One of them hatched one chick and abandoned the remaining eggs even without being moved.  I waited a day to see what would happen, putting her back on the nest that evening and tucking her little under her.  Two more hatched and the third hen tried to take them over.  I moved the hen and her littles to the tractor, placed the eggs under hen 3.  She hatched out only one and though I waited a day and a half, no more hatched and the other adults were trying to get to her.  I feared for the chick and moved her with her nest to the chicken tractor.  She immediately abandoned the nest and mingled with the other two hens and their chicks.  All of the eggs were kicked out of the nest around the inside of the tractor, one of them nearly broken in half and the chick struggling to survive, another is pipping, but Momma hen is paying no attention to either of them.  I fear that none of the remaining eggs will produce chicks.

A bit of research shows me that I should not interrupt a hatching hen during the process.  Next time one goes broody, I will move her as soon as she starts to sit and leave her alone until all of her chicks hatch.  Having her in the chicken tractor will allow me to keep separate food and water for her.  Instead of 22 chicks, we have 11 new chicks.  With the two survivors that are now about 4 weeks old, we have far fewer than the experiment was hoping to produce. Perhaps another hen will go broody with enough time for them to develop a sufficient size by late fall, perhaps I will yet have to purchase day old Rainbow Rangers to make up the difference.

Over the weekend, we did harvest the garlic, onions, turnips, and Daikon radishes.

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They are curing in the garage due to the daily afternoon thunderstorms.

This afternoon, I weeded the new upper half of the garden where the three sisters are planted.  The Amaranth weed pops up overnight and get a foot tall in less than a week.  That took me most of the afternoon.  Tomorrow morning, I am going to continue moving down the beds and also get the tomatoes tied up.  We have peas filling out, tiny tomatoes and peppers forming, a few tiny summer squash.  Bush and pole beans growing.  The three sisters didn’t do as well as I had hoped.  Each cluster of corn has at least one bean plant, not the three per hill that were planted.  The winter squash seed was left over from last season’s purchase and produced only 3 or 4 plants.  That may actually be good, as last year we were overwhelmed by winter squash, still have a few in the root cellar.

Lessons are learned each season and with each experiment on our homestead.

3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned”

  1. Interesting. We had hoped to borrow four hens from my sister-in-law to rid our yard of ticks and grasshoppers and such for the summer. She learned of someone else who isolated a hen for a child’s project and the rest killed it when it was reintroduced to the flock, so we are hen-less for this summer. I am not real sure that I will brave purchasing our own set, as we have no place for them over the winter, and I am not willing to kill them. Good luck with the mothers and babies.

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