(With apologies to Dr Seuss)
Recently one of our hens has gone broody, and all the others have gone off the lay in support, or maybe because they are worried that she’ll steal their eggs, or for whatever reason causes chooks to go broody.
At least the bantams are smart enough to know what’s going on and are still laying their eggs.
Previously when this has happened, we’ve isolated the hen from the rest of the flock for a few days, and then they’ve come to their senses and gotten back on track. But as Mahatma, our gander now resides in the old duck shed that we’ve used for that purpose in the past, a new strategy was needed.
We were about to try the practice of dunking her in a big bucket of water, when a good friend suggested using her to raise some fertilised eggs. Having never done this before, that hadn’t occurred to us, but makes perfect sense.
So yesterday I headed over to see Morna at Pembrooke Plants and Poultry and collected a dozen eggs.
Hmmm … these are blue. That’s different.
Now if you know your chickens, that means were going to have some Araucana chooks and cockerels running around, and black ones at that!
Raised by the Araucana Indians
in central region of Chile, the breed was discovered by visiting
missionaries in the 1500’s. Thought to have descended from a wild
jungle fowl that was domesticated from a type of pheasant called the "chachalaca",
Araucanas still exist in the wild regions of the Amazon Basin. It
wasn’t until the 1920’s and 30’s that the breed was developed in Great
Britain and the United States, their popularity stemming from their
beautiful blue-green eggs.
What’s the point about all of this – eggs are eggs and chickens are chickens, right?
it’s a bit like the heirloom seed situation – the industrialisation of
our food production has narrowed down the variety of breeds, or sources
of our food supply, and we believe that’s not the way to go. Once these
breeds disappear, we can’t get them back, at least not quickly, and
thousands of years of natural selection and more recent selective
breeding will be gone. And whilst being able to have blue eggs in the
world may not be the noblest of aims, I was always told that variety is
the spice of life.
And hey, as long as the eggs have yellow yolks, who cares what colour the shell is!
Be sure to check back in 21 days and so we can let you know how the hatching is going.
So look up your local Heritage Breeds organisation – a few are listed here – and help keep a breed alive.
Kelmscott Farm – US
Source: The Field Guide to Chickens by Pam Percy
Image credit: organicmaven