These were my first chickens, two Buff Orpington hens. Pictured: Henny (left) and Chickie (right). They were both very sweet and beautiful, and lived to fairly old ages for a chicken. Henny lived to be nine years old. Pictured below is Henny when she was eight years old (she is standing on one foot scratching her beak).
This is a picture of my hen Sweetie raising chicks in 2010, in the only photo of her that still exists. It was June 2010, and the chicks were having fun playing outdoors. Flighty (chick on the right) laid champion eggs for many years. She was a Cuckoo Marans. Strangely enough, the name of the Marans breed is spelled the same way, “Marans,” whether referring to one bird or many birds.
“Millie, a bantam hen. She is the smallest in the flock and has her own roost up high up in the coop where the other hens can’t fly up and peck her. One year, she helped hatch three tiny ducklings.”
A reprint of my first-ever post! (It was published in December of 2012!)
Miracle Chick poses with Bluesy.
This is Miracle Chick, a chicken with a story to tell. He was hatched in late September of last year, and he had a hard time getting out of his egg. After many of the other eggs had hatched, he was still trapped in his eggshell. Chicks are supposed to pip a hole in their egg with their beak, and then “unzip” the eggshell by turning and pecking until the eggshell breaks in half and the chick simply leaves the eggshell behind by hopping away (newly-hatched chicks can’t walk properly yet).
But this didn’t happen with Miracle Chick. He had pecked a big hole in the side of the egg and stuck his head out, pathetically peeping and refusing to move. We watched in horror, not sure what to do about it. Two days passed without him making any progress, as other chicks hatched around him.
Finally the incubator water wells had evaporated so much that the eggshell’s membrane was becoming dry, and he still hadn’t attempted to get out of the egg further. He was stuck. At a loss of anything else to do, we refilled the wells, and wrapped his egg in a wet paper towel. Hours passed without progress. It was a high-stakes hatch, because chicks are supposed to eat after three days, and he had been stuck in the egg for four. Finally, we dropped a bit of water into the eggshell, and he was able to hatch.
But the battle wasn’t over yet. It was clear that he was a healthy chick with no deformities, but he wandered around aimlessly, apparently not recognizing food or water. And he was as thin as a stick.
As a last-chance effort, we put him under a broody hen who had hatched one other chick. Due to his behavior, his chances of survival looked small. But the hen did something to calm him, fluff up his chick down, and get him to drink and eat. He was transformed from a thin, confused chick into a confident and happy one. He has grown up into a fine, healthy bird, and is king of the flock–hence the name “Miracle Chick.”
It still hasn’t been determined what caused his difficulty hatching. Too-low incubator humidity and temperature changes is a suspect. The hatching issue does not appear to be genetic, since his chicks (hatched this year) had relatively easy hatches, and are doing great.
Miracle Chick’s baby picture with his mother hen, Blackbeak.
Bluesy is one of three Blue Cream Light Brown Dutch hatched last year. Most of these pictures are of his chick molt–his feather color became truly magnificent once he got his full plumage. He was raised along with three other chicks by a Jersey Giant hen, Blackbeak. A Jersey Giant is one of the biggest breeds of chickens and a Dutch is one of the smallest. She appeared to think her chicks weren’t growing big enough, and kept feeding them worms.
Bluesy (center), along with Miracle Chick and Tiny Hen at about a month old.
Bluesy when he finally began to get his rooster plumage at about three months old.