|Isaac's design for a new Hennery|
After designing an incubator from a wooden coffee box for his first flock of chickens, (See blog "Isaac builds an Incubator," 8/22/2013) Isaac went in search of fertilized eggs among his neighbors' flocks the following year, apparently not willing to depend on his own roosters. Fortunately, the neighbors on whom he called were not at home, and the second day he found a farmer with more "Broody Hens" and fertilized eggs than he needed. When a hen becomes "broody," she generally stops laying eggs, becoming busy enough setting the fertilized eggs she has laid. Because too many hens brooding means reduced production of eggs, farmers are sometimes willing to sell the "Broody Hen" with her eggs and any other fertilized eggs he can spare to tuck under the hen.
Even with hens to hatch the eggs rather than the chore of using an incubator, Isaac found that raising chicks was not always easy. On August 8, 1886, he wrote in his journal: "Having 50 little chicks to attend to now, one hen tending 25 of them, many new-comed doing poorly, feeble & die in few days peeping round."
He also experienced another problem in October of that year. "Skunks & coyote around trying at my chickens. Need an iron Hennery." He had quickly learned that hens wandered off to nest in trees and hide their eggs from him, so he designed a proper hennery. Even then the skunks continued getting at his hens. "Last night a skunk in Hennery. I after him with hammer. He killed my young pet chicken of the whole flock..." In an effort to foil the skunks, he added a new feature: "I busy at Hennery to make it more 'skunk proof.' Got 6' x 6' bin up by roosting time for them to feel more safe over nights."
Entries in his journal reveal that keeping the hennery snug and the chickens safe from skunks was an ongoing job for Isaac.