Neil and I were plotting to try and get a chicken mama or two to nest IN THE COOP this year. Our free range birds are wily creatures, and every year since we got them they’ve nested outside in the woods. Last year we lost two potential mama hens this way (turns out there are predators in the woods too, who knew!?)
But they love to lay eggs outside, even when they’re not nesting the heritage breed birds have those genes that make them want to hide their eggs. Earlier this spring we found they were hiding some (bunches really) in the hallway of the coop, behind the old dog crate and the icky bits of sheep fleece that I’m saving* for garden mulch.
And that’s when our plan started. If we left the eggs there – just the right number (8-16) would one of the hens nest there when she felt the mood? I’ve been carefully picking up the oldest and leaving a good sized clutch in the hall for over a month now. Neil picked up the rest of the eggs yesterday, but carefully left the “hidden” clutch alone.
And last evening there was a mutt hen sitting on them, protecting them and squawking at me! I really can’t believe we tricked one into nesting inside! Very exciting. These will be third(ish) generation farm chickens. The mutt chickens are our three newest hens, who were hatched late last summer. And their mother was hatched in our woods as well.
Any number of things could still go wrong. I could have left the older eggs in the clutch by accident. Our new rooster could be, um, not fulfilling his side of the bargain. She could be too young or not have the right temperament for nesting for 3 weeks straight. She could do what her mama did and decide all she really wants to do is nest and not attend baby chicks.
But if everything goes right then in 21 days I’ll have adorable baby chicken pictures to show off!
*where do you save such things if you don’t have a chicken coop hallway I wonder?