The Drama That Ensued
The hens had been up and gone with the new chicks. All through the day the nests sat empty except for unhatched eggs and the stench of rot. We decided to start cleaning. The only problem was that the hens and chicks were back for the night. Something had gotten into the eggs though, and a few were laying scattered about. We picked up one egg, laying far off from the nest and the children fought over who got to throw it into the dump.
8 won by refusing to relinquish his grasp on it. He threw it and it bounced off some boards and fell to the ground. My daughter told me it was bleeding. I thought we might as well look at the chick that hadn’t made it and get a bit of a biology lesson from it. But the chick that hadn’t made it… had.
Up until then he had been just fine. There amidst the broken egg shell was a perfectly formed baby chick. Egg yolk not yet absorbed and vessels not yet hardened off. He wasn’t dead just not ready to hatch yet. We had killed him, he just wasn’t gone yet.
I picked up the gasping chick and held him in my hand. Instead of, or as well as, a biology lesson we got a lesson in morality. I told them how all babies, even, or especially, those about to die needed to be held and loved. I nearly sobbed over this poor dyeing chick. The children looked at it and looked at me. Then they wanted to know, when could they throw more eggs?
Now that I knew there were at least a few of the eggs in the nest that were still viable I called my friend who is hatching geese in her incubator. She very kindly offered to let me put my chicken eggs in with them.
I covered myself fully with long sleeves and gloves and went to fetch the eggs. Reaching under attacking hens, blindly grasping for eggs I was afraid I would smash chicks so I picked up the yellow hen and set her next to the nest. As I did so chicks fell out of her like large rain drops. Plopping to the ground around her. I foolishly thought the hens set on the chicks, I didn’t realize they burrowed into her like worms. Or ticks, big fluffy ticks.
At my good friends house we turned the children out to play in the yard while we went down to the basement and candled the eggs. She started out doing it but the stench of rotten egg was making her sick so I took over. Out of around a dozen eggs the first few we did were bad. I was beginning to feel like an idiot for rushing these rotten eggs to her house to save. Then we found a good one, then another. The last one I was starting to say was yet another bad one, look it’s cracked, when she broke in that it wasn’t cracked! It was starting to hatch! Couldn’t I hear it?
Listening for a moment I realized that I could hear the tiny peeps coming from inside! We left it there to do its thing, scrubbed our hands, and took the goslings out to play with the children. That egg and one other has hatched. Repulsed by the lingering smell of rot she re-candled the eggs and found two more bad ones and with those gone it smells much better in her hatching facilities. There are still two more to go. Are they good? Will there be four extra chicks? We are waiting to see! And here I thought the excitement of the saga of the hens ended when the first set hatched.