Last year we had a great garden. We also had an abundance of honey from our beehives. I do believe there is a correlation between the two having so much success.
Unfortunately, this year, neither the garden nor the honey did well at all. Throw in the fact that most of our hens are no longer “spring chickens” and our egg production is down, and it has not been a good year on the ol’ Nix homestead.
When a couple of the old hens went broody on us, we thought we may get at least one success this year. A broody hen is one that has decided to sit on, and hatch, a clutch of eggs.
I haven’t found a rhyme or reason as to when or how a hen decides to go broody, other than maybe some breeds are more likely to do so than others. We’ve had chickens for the better part of 20 years, and we’ve had hens hatch eggs maybe three or four times.
When the first couple of baby chicks began to hatch this year and did not survive, my wife took over. She very quickly moved the next chick that hatched inside the house, into an incubator and away from the outdoor threats its siblings had encountered.
This isn’t the first time we’ve had baby chicks in the house in an incubator, but it is the first time since I wrote that column a few years back about having a snake in our house.
This latest chick was born with a healthy set of baby chick lungs, let me tell you. That thing sat in its incubator on our kitchen counter and kept the entire house awake at night. For this reason alone, this chick and I became instant enemies. But it was much cuter than me, so there was no way I was trying the old “either it sleeps outside or I sleep outside” ultimatum.
As it grew, during the day it would stay outside in a converted rabbit hutch to keep it protected from the grown chickens. At night, it would come back inside, where my wife had a heat lamp waiting for it to sleep under.
One night we got home late, so she parked the car at the hutch, went and got the chick, put it on her dashboard and let it ride up to the house in the car. I got a pretty cool picture of the chick going on its first car ride.
We kept this up for a few weeks, long enough for it to get enough feathers to make it outside overnight. Which with the way this summer has gone didn’t take very long.
But in that time, my wife had that chick trained like a puppy. She would take it outside and set it down and it would follow her wherever she went. When she put her hand anywhere near it, it would run and jump on her hand. Then it would make its way up to her shoulder, where it was content to let her do the walking for both of them.
She was a modern day, West Georgia pirate, with her unique (if not confused) parrot on her shoulder.