So about a month ago I'm out waging war on weeds with my new Husky 4-stroke weed-buzzer-downer.
Made darned good progress, too... was working my way into the last corner of the fenced yard when I suddenly stopped, feeling something wasn't quite right.
I turned the machine off, and in the fresh silence probed with my eyes... and there, probably less than six feet from where I stopped, was a hen. Not my hen, mind you... seems we have feral chickens!
Anyway, there she sat. Or set. Whatever. Splayed out as flat as she could be, stoically gazing at me, obviously resigned to staying with her eggs until the bitter end... which to her, I'm sure, seemed inevitable and imminent.
Of course, I left her alone. I wandered back to that corner of the yard every day to check on her... then, on Monday, May 02, she was gone. Four eggs cracked or crushed and covered with ants. Remaining eggs in situ; found poor mom about a dozen feet away, surrounded by clumps of feathers. Dunno what got 'er, but whatever it was, she got it away from the nest full of eggs.
To make a long story as short as possible, I found myself playing "chicken midwife." Gathered the remaining eggs into a box, I grabbed a heater and made my downstairs bathroom into a makeshift incubator, with the first egg hatching before I was done. And by Thursday, I had seven chicks!
Dang, but they grow fast!!
It's been over 50 years since I've had chickens, so this is an adventure for me...
Anyway, last Sunday, my son and I set out to recycle some old kennel panels into a 12' x 18' "chicken run." And while clearing some branches that he'd cut from a mulberry tree, he suddenly said "Uh... Dad? There's another chicken over here."
"Is it alive, son?"
"Yep. And I think she's setting on a bunch of eggs!"
Okay... so we constructed the cage around her, hopefully it'll protect her from whatever got the first hen. Prolly next weekend we'll build a coop; in the meantime, I think the first batch - now moved into a large feed trough on my screened-in back porch - has at least one more week indoors.
So - any advice or observations will be graciously received. And suggestions on what the "Moms" might be. I think the first was a brown leghorn... mebbe...