Thursday, August 29, 2013

Isaac Raises Chicks with a Broody Hen

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.

5 comments:

The Blog Fodder said...

No mention of weasels? Maybe not that far south?

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Isaac never mentioned weasels, nor have I seen them in the area. However, I think there are some areas in Kansas that have weasels.

Talya Tate Boerner said...

I love glimpsing into Isaac's every day routine.

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Lillian shared: "My mother used to trim the chicken's wings to keep them from flying up into the trees. We had a dog that guarded the chicken house, but sometimes an uproar sent Dad out with a gun."

The Blog Fodder said...

Sometimes an uproar sent Dad out with a gun.

Willie was late for school by a couple hours. His explanation was that his father hearing a noise in the chicken house, had gone out with the shotgun. He slept in his long underwear which had a button or two missing on the back flap. The dog followed him into the chicken house and touched his back end with his cold nose. The whole family had been cleaning chickens since 5:00 am.