The chicken… then the Egg!

The old question actually goes; “What came first? The chicken or the egg?” In my case, it’s the chicken. Baby chicks, grown up hens, all kinds, breeds and sizes. And not until now have I actually attempted to hatch out eggs in an incubator!

Swedish Flower Hens come from Skåne/Sweden which is exactly where I grew up. If you take an absolutely stunning looking multicolored bird and wrap it into a super friendly package plus mix in a little bit of home… you end up with a Swedish Flower Hen. So how could I NOT want to get these wonderful birds??!! They were a little bit of a challenge to find since I decided against having them shipped or bought from large hatcheries (besides, not many carry them), but I was lucky to find a woman who runs a micro hatchery of rare breeds out of her home in MA who raises them. She picked out 4 beautiful hens in different colors and one very handsome rooster. They were about 3.5 months old when I got them and I was looking forward to them starting to lay eggs so I could try my hand at hatching. Always fun to try something new.

In the meantime I decided my “egg basket” needed more colors! The Swedish Flower Hens (SFH) lay a large to extra large egg, but it’s cream to light brown so it doesn’t add the color I was looking for. I found two sweet Easter Egger pullets- 4 months old (who will lay green eggs) at my feed store, and contacted “my” micro hatchery in MA regarding getting some Cream Legbars sine they lay beautiful blue eggs. We had one of this breed before, Waffles a family favorite because of her quirky personality but sadly lost her to a hawk. It’s almost spring time, which equals “fox season” meaning they have their babies and are hungry and hunting 24/7. Unfortunately chicken is everybody’s favorite meal. I probably go a bit overboard wanting to maintain my flock, maybe? Anyway, I sent in the down payment for the 3 I wanted, got a visit from my Swedish friend and somehow ended up buying an incubator and 22 fertilized eggs to try to hatch. My daughter is visiting MA for a long weekend and is coming home today with the eggs.

Meet Tafitti and Moana, our two new Easter Eggers- and yes, the daughter got naming rights!

There is a lot more to hatching eggs than just putting them into the incubator. Naturally there’s the temperature, but there is also egg turning (the hen moves the eggs all the time to prevent the chick to grow attached to one side of the shell), humidity (too little makes the hatchling die, too much at the wrong time will either drown the chick or make it grow too big and too weak and it will die) and of course making sure its the right humidity at the right time, candling the eggs at the he right times, which basically means that you are shining a bright light through the egg to determine if the hatchling is still growing The goal is to cull all the eggs that are not viable- preventing them from exploding and contaminating the whole incubator. (Can’t imaging what THAT would smell like- yuck)

Look at these beautiful eggs- can’t wait to see the little chicks!!

But before the 21 days that it takes to hatch a chicken egg are up, we are expecting LAMBS!! Bouncy fluffy little baby lambs! The official due date is March 18th, so any day now, woohoo. It’s both stressful and exciting. Unfortunately one ewe developed a vaginal prolapse and the vet had to come and stitch her closed so all her parts would stay where they are supposed to stay until she lambs. Because nothing, not even the lamb can come out now, we have to watch her closely so we can intervene and remove the suture in time. To make this easier on us, we built lambing pens under our deck – lol- so we can walk right out from our family room in the basement straight into their pen to check on them. I have a feeling I will be sleeping on the couch so I won’t wake Scott and the dogs with my frequent baby checks. The girls have quickly adapted to life under the deck and after a day out they all stand in front of their new “pens” calling me loudly at dinner time! I swear they can tell time! Fingers crossed for uneventful lambing and for 4 healthy bouncing little ewe-lambs- actually, in truth, as long as they all do good and give me healthy little lambs I will be ecstatic!

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