Saturday, March 29, 2014

Coq a Vin & The Broody Hen

On Thursday we culled our two Speckled Sussex roosters. Esa and two of our friends did the deed while I waited inside ready to scald and pluck. One friend was able to share some useful tips with Esa, who'd only helped me with the one rooster previous to this, while the other friend was learning the whole process fresh. We got a late start but things went well.
I improved my scalding and plucking techniques this time, scalding hotter and getting the hot water into all the feathers by dunking the bird repeatedly, then only quickly dipping into the ice bath before plucking. I did half of one bird, taught our two friends how to pluck and then finally ate my dinner and went to bed. I giggled in bed, listening to my friends talk while getting sleepier and sleepier over their plucking work.

So, now that her two boyfriends are gone, we've found our Speckled Sussex hen, Ora (short for The Oracle), sitting on a clutch of eggs. Well, Esa found her actually. Last night after putting the hens away for the night, he brought in a bucket of 25 eggs!! I got my flashlight and did some rough candling. 5 looked like newer eggs or just yolks, 13 looked like truly half-baked chicks, and the rest I wasn't sure about. We put the 5 newer ones in the fridge and fretted over what to do with the rest. I looked up ideas on Backyard Chickens, but it was 1am and I had limited options. We put the 20 eggs in my wool hat and went out to put them back under the mama hen. Since she had them hidden in the yard and we don't want the rats to take them, we moved her & the eggs into a separate box in the coop to basically force her to sit on them again and keep the other three hens from bugging her.
This morning when I went out to let the hens out and feed them, Ora had rearranged the eggs, half of them across the box from the others. She was fussing with them even as I opened the lid to give her food. I decided to prop the box open to let her out for a bit.
I am a little worried she won't sit on all the eggs now that things have been moved. So, since the stores are open now that it's day time, I am going to grab a few supplies and make a nesting hen simulator type of incubator. (Thank you Backyard Chickens).

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