Playing Chicken

Observing my children's interest in a friendly rooster they encountered this spring, a family friend proclaimed, "It's time for the Hurtados to raise chickens!" I had been pondering this reality for some time, and decided this was as good of a time as any to start. Another family graciously loaned us their incubator as well as a guinea pig cage to serve as a brooder. Next we contacted our friends at Percy Thomson Meadows to see if they had fertilized eggs. We were in luck. Of course the boys were more interested in Roman the piglet than our eggs.

Here are the eggs in the incubator and our (well-decorated) egg-turning schedule. We candled the eighteen eggs several times throughout the 21-day gestation period to observe the growth inside. Finally, after weeks of waiting, Silas spotted the first pip (right).

First out of the shell was Action Jackson (or Jackie?) who jumped around making quite a ruckus among the eggs. Shortly thereafter, Action was joined by Peep.

Not all of the eggs hatched, but before we disposed of them we candled them one last time. One egg had movement, and we could hear chirping inside, so we decided to help the little fellow out. Here is Seymour. We kept him alone in the incubator for 24 hours then introduced him to the rest of the brood. Sadly, Seymour didn't make it and was buried in the woods behind our house.

Another chick died while zipping through his shell. His body was sent to school with the boys for burial on the EWL property.

While the seven remaining chickens (Action Jackson, Peep, Mark, Dragon, Spiderman, Sierra, and Marshmallow) continue to develop and grow in our brooder, we got to work on our coop, generously donated by Sharon Knies and Windhorse International. The boys along with Tim and Brian applied a fresh coat of stain and a new roof before delivery to our backyard. The chicken run is a work in progress.

This has been a challenging adventure with a steep learning curve for a family of newbies, and we continue to say prayers for the chicks that did not survive.

Our chickens are Red Sex Link, a cross-breed whose color at hatching is differentiated by color - females are golden and males are white. Our coop can accommodate 4-6 chickens, so we are hoping eventually to have four laying hens and one rooster. However, at the moment it looks like we have two pullets (young hens) and FIVE cockerels (young roosters)!! I think we will end up buying two more pullets and finding new homes for four of the cockerels. If all goes well we will have homegrown eggs in our frying pan in six months. Stay tuned!