It all started on a whim. One day while collecting eggs, I got a broody feeling and decided to start an experiment. I took the 3 eggs and came up with my own incubator made out of 2 Pyrex bowls, a kitchen thermometer, a Styrofoam bowl, a moist paper towel, and a desk lamp.
A week past and after taking a flashlight to the eggs, to my pure surprise, the two brown eggs were forming! A couple weeks past and I started to get nervous that the bulb that was keeping my babies alive, would burn out during the night. So I hopped on eBay and ordered myself an incubator. They spent their last week in the incubator. Then, on Thanksgiving day 2010, just as we were about to sit down for our dinner, baby Rastus hatched into the world. The whole family, including my Dad, my sister's kids, my kids, and even my husband, watch in amazement. None of us had ever seen this before.
Later that evening, little Delilah hatched with a little help from me.
Rastus and Delilah were a mix of a Barred Rock hen and a Buff Minorca roo.
Hours went by and the two finally dried off enough to go into their brooder. The hobbled around exploring their food and water. They were so adorable!
Shortly after they hatched, I had to go on a weeks vacation to Vegas with hubby, leaving the chicks and the kids in my Mother's loving care. She did a wonderful job. When I got back, I could not believe how much they had grown. And I could already tell we had a rooster on our hands.
The two lived indoors for quite sometime since it was winter. They had a lot of fun hanging with my kids.
As spring grew closer, the two got to spend a little time outside....getting out of their bin was always welcome.
The funny thing is, I actually posted a "Is this a rooster?" on BYC. Lol
By springtime, the two were ready to join the others out in the yard. I don't think I slept a wink the first night they were outside in their coop. Like sending your kids to school for the first time. They did fine. Rastus and Delilah grew into two of the prettiest chickens I had seen.
Like your child getting its first tooth, we were there for each milestone. The first time Rastus crowed is a funny story. I had just gotten out of the shower and had the bathroom windows open. All of a sudden I heard a noise that sounded like a man outside calling out "Helloooooo". I thought to myself, "Oh Great! A visitor...what timing!". Now, I live in the country and visitors are fairly rare. I looked outside my window to see if I could see anyone. There was no one. I started drying off and I heard it again. "Oh Come ON!" I ran from window to window trying to see where the noise was coming from. Then finally, "Helloooooo Rastus" It was a crowwwww not a Helloooooo. My sweet boy had crowed!
Then Delilah. My daughter had bonded to her like glue from the get go. She called her, her golden chicken. One day while checking for eggs, I noticed 2 white eggs in the nesting box. I only have 1 white egg layer.....Delilah had laid her first egg. All the genetics stuff I had read, said that when you mix a white egg layer (minorca) to a brown egg layer (barred rock), the brown is more dominant so she should lay brown eggs. Her ear lobes were even red. I didn't care, she was special and so were her eggs.
I always used to keep my chickens penned up because I was scared that they would run off or something would kill them. Well around the time Delilah laid her first egg, I started letting a couple of my clan roam around. They did just fine. Months went by and my flock grew from 7 chickens to close to 60. No I don't have an addiction. lol Anyway, one afternoon I let Rastus roam around with me while I did my chicken duties and he was having such a good time digging around, I just let him be while I went in to cook dinner. The house dog was locked up and our goat guard dog Maggie was good at alerting me of any other intruders. I figured he was fine. He always found a place to roost and when I would go out to close things up I would lock him up in his pen. Well night fell and I was on the computer updating my website with some pics I had taken that day. Including one of Rastus. I was real proud of my beautiful boy. He was a striking white with buff splashes here and there and some buff barring on some of his long tail feathers. Well, I closed up my computer and headed over to the dog crate to take the dog out before I went to find Rastus. My heart sunk when I found the crate empty. My husband must have let him out, forgetting that Rastus was freeranging. I ran outside with my flash light. I found the dog near my chickens but no Rastus. Upon further inspection on the backside of the chicken pens I started seeing my worst nightmare. White feathers. I lost my Rastus that night. A lesson learned the hard way. I buried him under a tree behind my chicken pens.
My daughter was sure Delilah knew Rastus was gone. I don't know if chickens have that good of a memory but I guess we can always hope they do. While I could never really forgive my husbands dog for what he did, I know he was just being a dog....so life goes on.....or does it? Not long after I lost Rastus, my family packed into the truck to go pick up some stuff for our goats.....not realizing that we were going to come back to the worst site a chicken owner can imagine. We still to this day, don't know for sure how the pen door got open. My daughter assured me that she closed it when she went in to get the eggs. Well, either way, the pen door was open and all the chickens in that pen were killed by my husbands dog....including Delilah. In this pen were also the last of my original chickens that started my addiction.....I mean hobby. My daughter and I were histerical! It was the worst chicken day ever! There was one ray of sunshine that day. I had one survivor from that pen. I don't know where she hid but once we realized she was not among the casualties, we started calling her name and she came out of nowhere. Oprah, my minorca hen. She hobbled out of her hiding spot stunned and in shock. I picked her up and held her close. Kissing her sweet little head. She is my strong, brave girl....and smart. I still to this day don't know where she hid. But it doesn't matter, we still have her.
We no longer have that dog and even though we don't have Rastus and Delilah anymore, their memory lives on in our hearts. Only another chicken owner can appreciate the love of a chicken.