Do you remember Archie? He was born on the weekend of our Bonfire Party last year and came from an egg donated by our neighbour. His adopted mummy was Snow White and out of a clutch of 6 eggs, he was the only one to hatch, tiny and pitch black. The rest of the [very explosive] eggs weren't fertilized, I later found to my cost!
Not being terribly experienced with chickens in November last year, we'd somehow decided Archie was a rooster. When he was about five months old he laid his first egg and we revised our thinking, sadly by then she was stuck with her name...!
Archie is now almost 9 months old and is the most beautiful natured hen with shimmering green and black feathers. Last month she went broody and we moved her to the quiet coop in the walled garden. Thanks to a donation of 9 eggs from our neighbour again, (to avoid mixed breeding at The Larches) Archie was very happy to sit and indulge her desire to be a mummy. We waited for the confinement of 21 days to see if any of the eggs were viable.
On Saturday the chicks started hatching. First a little striped brown chap, then another similar one. Soon we had 4 striped chicks followed by a yellow. On checking the coop later we found that Archie had rolled one cracked egg away, its contents leaked out; runny smelly unfertilized goo, yuk.
Late on Sunday and three more eggs remained, two with holes where tiny beaks peeped their hellos. But now Archie was much more interested in her 5 live chicks and wouldn't sit on her eggs.
On Monday my mummy instincts took over and I decided to interfere with nature (might work, might not but without interference I'm sure these eggs had no chance.) I gently peeled some of the shell and a tiny bit of membrane from the first egg and, so as to ensure I wasn't mistaken for Mummy, I closed the coop with Archie and all chicks. They seemed to assume the darkness meant night time and everyone settled down warm and snugly under Archie alongside the eggs.
On Tuesday morning we had another two chicks, a yellow and a grey. The little grey was duly named Gritty with the surname Happy Feet. It suits him/her perfectly.
The last egg remained and by now it too had a hole and a peeping chick. Archie was super busy explaining the intricacies of chick crumbs and water drinking technique to a brood of 7 and really didn't have any intention of warming one lone egg!
Again Lou intervened, peeling and manipulating daylight! By the time my brood and I were due out the door for a lunch and a play date mid-morning Tuesday, we had another yellow chick, (albeit a very wobbly and weak one.) We've called her Hope for obvious reasons.
So here's hoping all 8 survive, though I'm not convinced about Hope. Fingers crossed everyone.
I've attached the videos of our new chicks in the post, if you are reading this as an email and you are unable to see the video footage, click the title of the blog post to view the post online.