I can hardly believe it’s May already. Many of the spring flowers are already over, though the bluebells are holding on – just! My garden is at that wonderful stage of every weed going completely bananas, and growing much faster than I can pull them out.
The animals are also going bananas – especially the foxes, and I have some bad news to report. When we arrived home from Norfolk, I let the chickens out of their cages again so they could roam around the garden during the daytime…and I think there must be fox cubs somewhere near…and I hope they are happy. I am left with one cockerel and two hens.
I therefore decided that I would hatch some more eggs. As the cockerel is related to the hens (mother and sister) I thought it would be best to buy some more eggs on Ebay. I’m not sure that the morality of the situation matters, but the hatchlings might not be very healthy with such closely related parents.
I then had fun choosing which eggs to buy. The chickens I currently own have at least some Maran in them, as the hens are dark and the cockerel has lovely chestnut neck feathers. However, Marans were bred initially for cock-fighting in France, and some of those fighting genes are still in evidence today, so I decided to try a different breed.
I ordered three different types of eggs. Some are Cream Legbars, which will lay beautiful blue eggs. It’s an English breed, and a cross between Barred Plymouth Rocks (a speckly grey bird) and Brown Leghorns (a brown bird). The adults should be a sort of pale brown, slightly speckled bird – but the main thing is those lovely blue eggs, so I do hope some are female. These chickens were ‘designed’ in Cambridge, and the hatchlings are different, so the males have a white spot on their heads, so I’ll know immediately if I have some females. (Usually, sexing chicks is pretty impossible!) I will keep them all, whatever the gender, I’ll simply be depressed if they’re all male…
I also bought some Leghorn eggs. These are big white eggs. The birds came from Italy, they are big white chickens, and sometimes their crown sort of flops over, which I think makes them look very Italian!
Finally, I ordered some Speckled Sussex eggs. These chickens are brown, and speckled (no surprise there) and they have been in England for years, are a very old breed. They lay a pale brown egg — which is smaller than I was expecting (so I hope the seller didn’t send me bantam eggs — that’s the trouble with Ebay, you can never be sure).
Well, the eggs arrived, delivered by the postman with a letter from the bank and a leaflet advertising new windows. They were packaged quite differently (the eggs, not the letters) — some in a polystyrene box, some in egg boxes surrounded by either straw or scrumpled newspaper within another, bigger box — but they all survived. The people selling the Sussex and Leghorns added a few extra eggs (perhaps because they were packed less securely). I actually have more eggs than I want, but I don’t know which ones will survive, so I will put them all in the incubator. They have to settle for a day first, pointy end down, then they go into the incubator and I just have to wait 3 weeks. If I have 18 cockerels I shall be annoyed.
I would like one of the outside hens to go broody, so she can raise the chicks for me. I am leaving her eggs to encourage those broody hormones. So far, she has about 20 eggs – which she just keeps looking at – no sign of broody at all! Maybe she remembers the trouble that chicks are, and has figured out what makes them hatch (I can relate to her feelings of not wanting the hassle of more children, honestly I can). Am hoping she changes her mind. I will let you know. If the hen goes broody, I can then give her the hatchlings from the incubator, and even though the eggs she’s sitting on are infertile, she will hopefully accept the chicks…hopefully.
Hope you have a good week.
Love, Anne x