There comes a time in every farmer/homesteader’s lives where you fall victim to peer pressure and you break down and buy an incubator so that you can hatch your own chickens. It’s ok, you made the right decision. Hatching out your own eggs is the funnest! Hatching out your own eggs and watching that first baby chick pip through the shell is truly a farming/homesteading miracle. The first time can be intimidating, but don’t be nervous! I’m here to hold your hand through it. We’ll get through it together, and then you’ll be hooked. Here’s the first installment of our beginner’s guide to incubating eggs and hatching out your own baby chicks!
About a month ago we started on an exciting (albeit stressful) endeavor. We started growing wheatgrass in our greenhouse, filling every square inch top to bottom with trays, soil, seed and bright green blades of grass. Why does one need 100+ trays of wheatgrass? What is that stuff anyway? Why do crunchy-granola health junkies go nutzo over wheatgrass? Who decided that juicing lawn clippings was a great source of vitamins and nutrients? That last question I can’t answer but for real, let’s talk about some wheatgrass shall we?
There’s no place that I would rather be than at the farm during fall. The air is cold and crisp and it almost reminds me of ocean air. It’s a fresh, rejuvenating air scented with baked pumpkins, cinnamon coffee and freshly cut firewood. The leaves are changing and creating a beautiful contrast with the overcast clouds. While Dave and I were working in the greenhouse one day, we noticed the looming clouds coming from west and the sun hanging in the clouds to the east. I quickly grabbed my camera to capture the moments and some other shots of the farm during fall.
So we’ve been really quiet on the blogosphere lately… shame on us! See, what had happened was that we got hella busy you know… farming. But that’s no excuse! But we’re going to make it up to you, I promise. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to and where we’ve been lately:
A few weeks ago Dave and I were out and about running errands. Picking up some chicken feed, light bulbs, chainsaw blades, torque drivers, valve wrenches… left phalange coupling… cordless… steel… drums… stuff. Oh, and free popcorn. Anyway, we just happened to go down the ‘farming’ aisle where they just happened to have some baby chicks and I just happened to look at them. And what happened to be there was a tub full of week old salmon faverolles! We had just moved the last batch of chicks out of our house and into their respective new big chicken coop. I was kinda looking forward to a living room without chicks but these were salmon faverolles! They were right there! How could I pass those up!? But I told myself (and everyone else) that we were done with chicks for the year. Done. D-O-N-E. Needless to say, we ended up walking out with all 13 of them. Fellow chicken people may understand the excitement of surprise salmon faverolles. But for those of you that are like “Cool. Tiny yellow chickens that are mega cute. What’s the big deal?” Well, I’ll tell you what the big deal is, buddy!
Ms. Broody Pants has been so much fun to watch over the past few weeks. Her babies are now three weeks old and are moved into a new pen so they have plenty of room to be chickens. The other chickens are able to see but not touch them so hopefully they’re getting acquainted with each other through the coop. The other day I noticed that Ms. Broody Pants was pacing in front of the door to their coop so I trusted her judgement and opened up the door to see what would happen.
We’re in the final stages of building our new coops. Which is super great, because we have a buttload of chicks in either temporary coops or en route. The buildings are built, we just had to make them chicken friendly. Now came time for the fun part… the roosts, feeders, nesting boxes, brooder, lounge, discoteque and luxury day spa.
We got our first group of Marans about 4 weeks ago, back then they were precious little one week old balls of fluff that bounced around their roomy brooder. Now they like like prehistoric dinosaur-like chicken creatures that I’m certain are going to start breaking out of their brooder while I’m sleeping and start revolting. It’s time for them to move out and start living like normal chickens instead of house chickens.
Friday night I rushed home from work to see what Ms. Broody Pants was up to. One of our buff orpingtons had been sitting on her eggs for 20 days so I was almost sure that when I got home I would see some chicks. But alas, no chicks. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be, maybe the chill last week was too much for her. But Saturday morning I went out to the coop to check on the chickens and looked in her nesting box. A tiny yellow chick with a black spot on its forehead was peeking out from underneath Ms. Broody Pants. She did it!! She hatched a chick! I ran to the house to grab my camera and by the time I got back out there were three tiny faces peeking out from underneath her wings. Three beautiful chicks!
If you give Autumn a chicken coop, she’ll probably want some chickens. If you give Autumn some chickens, she’ll probably want some more. If your chickens start to lay eggs, your friends will probably want some eggs. If your friends want some eggs, their friends will probably want some too. If your friends’ friends want some eggs, you’ll probably need more chickens. If you want some more chickens, you’ll probably need some more coops. Translation: We’re building not one but two additional coops so that eventually we can have three separate thirty bird flocks. By keeping three separate flocks, we’ll be able to sell eggs for consumption, hatching eggs, chicks and full grown chickens. And we are really effing excited.