Tag Archives: Hatching

Ducks are Due

The runner duck eggs are due tomorrow, and we already have our first two pips in the incubator! You can view their progress on the hatch cam here.*

We also had some last-minute additions to the duck incubator this morning. We got the first eggs from friends in our old neighborhood after their duck hen went missing, and then they found the missing duck sitting on a huge clutch of eggs. Soon they had both of their duck hens sitting, so we made plans to build a duck shelter and keep a few of the hopeful hatchlings here.

Sadly, this morning my friends woke up to find both their duck hens were killed by a predator overnight. With no way of knowing exactly how long the eggs were without their mother, we figured we had to at least try to save the ducklings inside. So she nestled them in a big basket filled with pine shavings and immediately drove them up here to join the other ducklings in the incubator.

In my 5 years of keeping chickens, the predator losses have been the hardest part. There’s a lot of guilt that comes with not having been able to prevent the attack, but the fact is that protecting your animals from predators and keeping them happy can sometimes be mutually exclusive. Sometimes foxes happen by later than usual. But does that mean you should keep your chickens in the coop all day? Both are devastating. But I’d rather my birds have one free day than a lifetime of captivity.

The good news is that where there’s pain, there’s usually a silver lining.

The day I lost my first flock to the fox, that silver lining was getting to know my wonderful neighbors. I went over to give them a heads up about the late-morning predator attack, and later that day I opened my door to find their sweet daughter holding a plate of lemon bars and a vase of sweet peas. We became fast friends, and in the years since I’ve learned so much about life, death, joy, and generosity. These are the people who taught us how to butcher chickens and press apple cider on crisp fall afternoons. They helped save our birds when the coop flooded, despite the flooding on their own farm.

I’m so sad at the loss of their ducks, but it gives me a measure of joy that we were in a position to put the eggs right in the incubator. Some are due on the 8th, and others are a couple weeks behind, so we’ll know pretty soon if any survived.

On a similar note, we also have an incubator full of chicken eggs growing for another friend that lost her whole flock overnight (the predators in that neighborhood are motivated, to say the least). So the hatch cam might be pretty busy during the month of July! Stay tuned.

*I haven’t hatched ducks before, and apparently runner duck eggs take a LONG time to hatch (24-36 hours from the time they pip), so we might be waiting a while. The first pip happened about 10 AM today (Friday) so we’re expecting to see hatching starting tomorrow. You can also search for “HatchCam” on the Ustream app for iOS and Android if you want to check in on the ducks from your BBQ. Happy Independence Day!!

 

 

Back to Brooding

I’ve been on a long hiatus from hatching (and blogging, sorry about that). The move from the old flood-damaged farm quite literally put a damper on things, and it’s been a long process of getting back to where we were. But this summer the chickens have a proper coop AND a fence to keep them out of the veggie and flower gardens, which are finally planted. There’s still a lot of work to do here, but so much potential. I’m excited to share the process here on the blog, and finally start getting back to the recipe and chicken posts too!welsummerXfaverolles_just_hatched

And I can’t think of a better way to revitalize the old blog than the way we started. A couple weeks ago, our sweet little hen Rotisserie, one from the August 2013 hatch, forced the issue by going broody. She settled on a nest full of eggs and refused to budge, even at night. So we moved her into an old doghouse overnight, to keep the other hens away from her nest (and also make sure she was really on board). She stuck with her nest of unfertilized eggs and golf balls, signaling that we were either in for chicks or weeks of trying to convince her otherwise.

broody_hen_rotisserie

My sister and I decided to go the easiest (and cutest) route, by picking up some fertile eggs for Rotisserie to sit on. The eggs came from my friend’s flock, including a few hens that were fathered by Rotisserie’s late brother Pecker — so she’s even got a chance to keep the family lineage going. Only problem is, the eggs wouldn’t all fit under her. I put the rest in the incubator, so we can all have some fun watching them hatch. Chicks are due around Sunday, June 14th (though they’re sometimes a bit early!) and the live stream will start once the eggs start pipping. Check back soon, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates and behind-the-scenes photos.