Rory’s hatching adventure was a bit of a rollercoaster. She started with 10 eggs, from herself, Annie and Betty. An Annie egg cracked early on thanks to a thin shell. Rory wasn’t very good at eating or looking after herself during her sit. On lockdown day I discovered a broken egg, one of Rory’s, that was very stinky and scattered in and around the nestbox, having stalled and gone bad earlier on. The Betty egg that didn’t look fertile on Day 7 also mysteriously disappeared during this incident. I was a bit mad at Rory, then I realised it was really my fault for leaving her and her eggs in the nestbox that she was jumping into from the side instead of ducking through the door. This nestbox obviously wasn’t working for her and I was too busy over Christmas and New Years to better the situation, which led to eggs breaking from being jumped on.

Since I was in a bit of a huff with Rory at the time, I took the Annie and Betty eggs away and put them in the incubator, which I already had up and running. Rory was left with her own two crossbred eggs. She hatched two cute little buttons, both black. In the incubator, one Betty egg hatched and one Annie egg hatched, both black. I was glad I separated them because now I’m sure which mother each chick came from. That left two Betty eggs and one Annie egg in the incubator, which weren’t forthcoming. Upon cracking, they were all stinky and had died earlier on. I imagine these early deaths were from bacteria from the Annie egg that cracked at the start and got egg contents on some of them. I am pleased that that two good ones hatched in the incubator, so I must have had the lockdown settings right. I got the privilege of watching the Betty chick hatch out of its egg, which was quite exciting. The incubator-hatched chicks were given to Rory as soon as they’d dried out a bit.

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Altogether with mummy.

Rory is being a very dedicated Mum, and her babies are going to be excellent foragers, as she’s been digging up giant hollows in the Corner Coop, scattering wood shavings and food everywhere and teaching the chicks to peck and scratch. I hope she tones it down a bit as she’s making a big mess. She got a chick to eat a crane fly that was in the coop before its fluff had even fully dried.

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After watching bigger chicks, it’s always nice to see tiny fluff balls again.
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Rory is very much a teaching mum.

There was a big moving day when the main flock got moved into the Orchard Pen and Frodo and her 5-week-old chicks moved in there with them. Darrington the rooster worked well to keep the peace between everyone. Now there are three age groups in there: the adults, the two teenage pullets (almost 13 weeks old) and the older chicks (6 weeks old). This meant I could clean out the Corner Coop for Rory and the new chicks. The teenagers probably took it the hardest and hid in the coop for a while until I showed them how great it was around the corner.

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Frodo’s Dorking and Australorp chicks before moving day.
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Now it’s one big nutty family.
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The chick food box is the reason I can have more than one age group together. But it’s falling apart and I need to design and make a better one.
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The two teenagers always come to me. I offer them food, snuggles or both.

I can’t keep calling these two ‘the teenagers’ and it’s clear that they’re both pullets, as I thought. So, I am calling the black one Tiggy-winkle and the blue one Jemima.

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Tiggy-winkle and Jemima.

But wait, there’s more! As soon as the incubator was empty and cleaned, another batch of eggs went in. Why so many batches of chicks? I am trying to get as many chicks out of Annie as I can, as Annie’s days are, unfortunately, numbered, since she continues to lay a number of soft-shelled or thin-shelled eggs. Despite how fond I am of Annie, the longer I keep her the more danger there is of an egg-eating disaster developing. And we cannot afford to go there again. Hence, the continuous little batches of eggs. There are 19 eggs in the incubator: 7 from Annie, 6 from Betty and 6 from Paris. And so, the adventure continues.

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4 thoughts on “A Rory New Year

  1. I love seeing a mama caring for her chicks, but you are right, they are oh-so-messy with all their scratching. It is nearly impossible to keep the feeder and waterer working all day those first weeks because they get knocked over and/or filled with shavings and dirt. But it is much better than brooding them ourselves! Love to see all your hatching going on.

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    1. Our other hens aren’t really that messy. They get some bits in the food and water, but Rory is on a different level. She barely stops digging up the wood shavings, making big hills and dales in there! It’s an ongoing, furious activity and she can’t seem to just chill out. She kicks so many wood shavings in the air that the water bell is not able to be drunk from because it is stuffed full of wood shavings every time I check it and the food in the hanging feeder can barely be seen because it’s coated in wood shavings. It’s starting to drive me insane! Hence why they have been allowed outside more. If I could just tone down her scratching to a moderate level… She is otherwise looking after the chicks well.
      It’s nice when the hens do all the work, but then I am very fond of my two incubator-raised pullets too. They’re just lovely.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Watching the chick unfurl from within the egg was really something. I couldn’t believe how it had fitted in there. Sometimes it’s harder to appreciate the amount of information contained within a little seed that puts out tiny little leaves to start with, but I am always amazed to watch the giant pumpkin seeds grow. The roots are big and fast-growing and the leaves that come out get enormous!

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