Thursday, November 29, 2012

Counting the chickens before they've hatched

Just over three weeks ago we set a clucky hen on a dozen fresh eggs. She had been sitting in the nesting box in the chook pen so we knew she was ready to set. We got some eggs from a friend so they are a mix of varieties. Yesterday was the day I had written in my diary as the day that the chickens should hatch. It had seemed a long time coming because Hugh had been asking virtually every day whether the chickens were going to hatch that day.
We have been keeping the hen in the old rabbit hutch, as it was the most secure place we could find where she would be safe from predators. After one particularly hot day last week I was worried that the hen had abandoned her eggs. She had left the nest and looked quite distressed, and she had spread the eggs out, which resulted in one rolling away. But she may have just been trying to stop the eggs from overheating because she went back to them and continued sitting on them for another week.
Because yesterday was the day written in the calendar as hatching date we looked in on her lots of times during the day, and excitedly went out this morning to check again. We have had very wet and stormy weather and today was particularly cold. I was glad no chickens hatched last night in such a storm. But when there was still no sign of chickens this evening I started to despair. Maybe the eggs had gone off. Maybe they weren't fertilised...
But when I took an egg from under the hen and held it near my ear I could hear tiny pecking sounds and the faint cheeping of a tiny chicken. Now we wait expectantly for the morning, when we will be waiting to count our chickens!

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