Sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially when it comes to the homesteading lifestyle. This weekend, Nic and I were talking about our recent homestead happenings and were reminded of the events that took place this recent Memorial weekend…. Events that made us laugh, but also made us face the reality that things don’t always go as planned. We have always known this, but it was a nice little reminder, so I thought I’d share the story with you as well.
This past Memorial weekend, we stayed home and wanted to get stuff done around the Farmstead with our extra day off. Saturday morning I noticed that our Buff Orpington hen wasn’t in the run with the other chickens. I didn’t think much of it… maybe she was laying an early morning egg. But then a few hours later she still hadn’t come into the run. Then I remembered that I hadn’t seen her in the run the evening prior, so I opened the nest box door and there she was… nesting, puffed up, and angry in all her broody glory. My suspicions were correct, she had gone broody! This hen has been notorious for going broody; just last spring she went broody 3 times! She hadn’t gone broody at all this spring, so we thought she wouldn’t, especially since her broodiness usually subsides before this late in the spring. In the past we couldn’t let her hatch out chicks because we lived in the suburbs and couldn’t have any more chickens… we also didn’t have a rooster to provide our hens with fertilized eggs. Previously, we had to separate her for 4-5 days with no nest box until she broke her broody trance. We always felt so bad not letting her live out her dreams to hatch and raise some chicks. Now that we can have a lot of chickens, we wouldn’t mind her going broody, but we still have no rooster to fertilize our eggs. We also have so many other farm things going, it wasn’t really good timing for us. We already raised plenty of chicks the past two months, so having more chicks wasn’t part of our plan right now.
So after a couple of hours trying to figure what to do with her, we decided to get her some fertilized eggs to sit on. I went on craigslist and found someone nearby selling some that we could pick them up that evening. As we were about to leave, one of our goats, Bindi, decided to go into the chicken coop (they are obsessed with chicken feed). Not only did she go into the coop portion, she also managed to squeeze herself through the chicken-sized door into the small chicken run. We tried to entice her out with treats, but that didn’t work. The only other option was to have Nic climb in and crawl around on his hands and knees in chicken poop to try getting her out. After a few minutes he was able to grab her and we lifted her out safe. After that hiccup, we were finally on our way to get the fertilized eggs!
Before we left to get the eggs, we were thinking about only getting 3, since we already have plenty of chickens. We then decided to get 5, in case a few didn’t hatch. When we got there, it was so hard to pick out only 5 eggs, so we decided to get 8. The lady told us that her “magic number” for her broody hens to hatch out most successfully was 11, so we got 11 eggs! We went from 3 to 5 to 8 then to 11, definitely didn’t stay on plan! The fertile eggs are a barnyard mix, but a little more than half were tones of green, so we are excited to see what we get!
Before we left the house to get the fertilized eggs, I had already set up a little nest in a secluded area for our broody hen to sit on and raise her chicks. Since our nest boxes are above the ground a few feet, we didn’t want our hen to hatch out the chicks there because they might fall off. We also didn’t want the other hens to bother her. When we got home, I put the eggs in the new nest and put the broody hen in with them. She looked at them for a while, but after about 2 hours she showed no interest in sitting on the eggs in this new nest. I was so annoyed… why couldn’t she just do what we wanted her to do?! Once again, this didn’t go as we expected it would go…
While we were debating about what to do, all of a sudden we heard Cassidy (our LGD puppy) barking, she always barks, but this was a different bark that we haven’t heard yet. We opened the door to the animal yard and saw that the goats had finally managed to get on top of the tallest point of the chicken coop. Apparently Cassidy didn’t like them going all the way up there, haha! We knew there was nothing we could do, they were going to climb on whatever they wanted to; that’s how they are! So we closed the door and went back to discussing our broody hen dilemma. After a few more minutes, we heard Cassidy start barking again. As Nic was about to open the door to see what we going on now, all of a sudden we heard a loud crashing sound, followed by frantic goat bleating! Nic opened the door to find our goat, Lilly Belle, had fallen through the wood top on the lower part of the chicken coop/run! Within a second she pulled herself out and was just fine, thankfully! Our emotions went from worried, to mad/frustrated (that she broke part of the coop), to laughing, to then feeling thankful. Thankful because she had showed us a weak point in the coop, that predators could have been able to compromise. But, unfortunately Nic now had to turn his attention away from other projects he was working on to fix the chicken coop. Once again, things didn’t go as planned!
After the goat fiasco, we went back to trying to figure out what to do with our broody hen. We didn’t want to wait too long to decide, in fear that she might break her broodiness and the fertilized eggs would go to waste. After some thought, we decided to put the fertilized eggs into the original nest in the chicken coop that our hen went broody in. After I placed the eggs, I put the hen back into the coop, and within a few minutes she was contently sitting on her new clutch of 11 eggs! And now, after over a week, she is still sitting on those eggs… such a good first time momma! We will let her sit on that nest until the chicks hatch, and then we will move her and the chicks to a separate area where she can raise them safely. A day before we expect the chicks to hatch, we will put up some hardware cloth on the ledge of the nest box to ensure that no chicks will fall down off the ledge of the nest. It’s not ideal, but then again, when is anything really ideal? Life rarely goes as planned, but you have to adapt. When dealing with nature in particular, we really don’t have any control. But isn’t that a good thing? Things happen for a reason, and all you can do is go with it, and learn. Part of what I love about nature and animals is that they aren’t predictable. Animals do stupid, crazy, cute, and funny things! Homesteading is always going to be full of ups and downs. One day you could lose a chicken, pests destroy your garden, and your homemade jam didn’t set. And the next day your new hens could lay their first eggs, your neighbor drops off bags of extra fruit from their tree for free, and the new homemade bread recipe you tried came out better than expected. You can’t have the good without the bad. These types of situations are always happening to us, and probably you too! But these situations are what makes up life, and what makes life so entertaining. Therefore, my conclusion to this story is that homesteading is not for the faint of heart, and you definitely need to have a good sense of humor to live this lifestyle! :)