Mona, my lovely chocolate brown Barnevelder hen, went clucky last week for the second time. So far I’ve hatched two clutches of eggs at Edgefield:
- four eggs by Mona – only one female survived and she is now laying (i think)
- four eggs by my little bantam silver-laced Wynadotte – three have so far survived and they are now pullets (gangly teenagers) and look to be out of the danger zone in terms that I’m free-ranging them and they haven’t been taken by kookaburras or crows like the last lot.
Not sure what the latest three are – breed or sex. As we have only one rooster – Dirk Diggler, the spunky Silver Spangled Hamburgh – they are obviously half SSH. The other half could be Barnevelder, Sussex X Isa Brown, SSH or Silver-laced Wynadotte. Two are dark brown (probably Barnevelder) and one is spotty and mottled like an SSH.
Anyway, as pretty as the SSH are, they’re not the best layers (infrequent small, white eggs) and they’re skittish and not very docile, so not the best around young kids. I wanted to bring in some new blood and breeds. I found a guy on Gumtree selling fertile Light Sussex eggs and got talking to him and he offered me eggs of a rare French breed called Wheaten Maran which are really pretty, very good layers, and super friendly and docile. He reckons he trips over them as they crowd in around his feet. So I bought four of each and brought them home to do an egg switcheroo under Mona yesterday afternoon (Wed 04.12.13).
But then what to do with four half “cooked” SSH X eggs? I candled them and they all looked like they had viable, well-established embryos in them so I couldn’t bring myself to chuck them. So I set up my electric frypan with a towel, hay and a kids forehead thermometer and then set about last night frantically trying to find someone who could lend or rent me an incubator.
Facebook to the rescue! On the Hills Pets and Livestock Group, of which I am a member, a lady offered to put the eggs into her incubator which she has running 24/7. So I just dropped them off. Fingers crossed they didn’t go cold or I didn’t cook them when i was trying to get the frypan set up. I’m not holding out a lot of hope but I’ll just wait and see I guess.
As for Mona, when I went to check on her this morning she was off her nest and having a dust bath. But she was acting VERY cranky as broody birds do, fluffed up twice her size when she saw me and threatened to take my hand off. So I think she’ll hopefully go back and sit. Eight eggs cost me $25 and a long drive all the way to Wanneroo, so she better! I picked a couple of sprigs of mint and wormwood and lined her nest with them. The wormwood helps to eradicate fleas, ticks, lice etc and the mint just smells nice!
So anyway, now we wait. The four eggs in the incubator are probably two weeks off hatching (i forgot to make a note of the date) and the other eight are due on Christmas Day! Hooray!