Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, October 9, 2013 1:50 PM
This year I didn't have as much luck with my straight run chicks. In the past I've always ended up with more pullets than cockerels. But not this time. Out of eighteen chicks, only six were pullets. So I broke down and bought five additional pullets once I was sure of the sex ratio. I have my suspicions that one of them will also start to crow in a few months.
Ducklings on the other hand were a great success. Mary hatched out eleven little ones. I lost two (not uncommon) and sold a couple more. So she ended up raising seven ducks. This week, they all went into my freezer. I just received my copy of Hank Shaw's new cookbook entitled "Duck, Duck, Goose", so the timing was perfect. I plan on slow roasting one this evening.
I actually had to take two sets of roosters for processing at Riella Farms this year because I had gotten my chicks in a couple of batches. The second group ended up over staying their welcome due to other life commitments. But I finally got them in the freezer as well about a month ago.
Before I could do so, Carmella my Jersey Giant hen decided to go broody on me. I had been pulling eggs out from under her for a week or so. But then, on a whim, I decided to let her sit on the nest and see if anything would hatch. After all, there were four or five roosters in the yard so the potential for fertile eggs was high. In hindsight, I should have stuffed even more eggs under her to increase the odds of hatching. But considering how many birds I ended up with in the freezer, I'm not regretting just letting her be as is.
This morning, when I went out to collect eggs, I heard very distinctive peeping noises from the nesting box area. Sure enough, Carmella was all puffed up and making that protective purring sound that Momma Hens always make. So I peeked under her and found that one chick had hatched. It wasn't there last night, and it definitely appears to be newly hatched. So it must have pipped sometime early this morning.
I immediately went to work setting up a separate area in the barn that was goat proof and moved Carmella in there. This method has worked great in the past. Mom can hop over the barrier to go out and the babies stay inside for the first week or so until they start exploring. At that point, they can squeeze in and out as desired, but the goats still can't get to their food and water.
The nursery is all set up now. I just have to wait out the day and see if any more hatch. No clue who the parents are as she had a variety of eggs under her. But that doesn't really matter to me. Although I've had a couple batches of duck eggs hatch out, this little one is my first home grown chick. It's also Carmella's second time being a mom. So I have no doubts she'll do a good job. Hopefully this little one won't be an only child. Only time will tell. But if it turns out to be a hen, I'll end up keeping her. Now I just need to think of some clever name.