Earlier this year, Richard and I noticed we had a clucky chicken. Whenever we went to go get the eggs or feed the chooks, there she was, sitting on them, keeping them safe and warm.
She was one of the unnamed Hyline chickens that we purchased in bulk and ‘second-hand’ from a commercial pasture farm. We decided we’d leave a few eggs under her to see what happened. It’s what we do with a clucky chicken – we’ve just managed to fail every other time we’ve made an attempt.
Richard marked half a dozen eggs, and we left those eggs underneath her for three weeks.
And then one day I went to grab the eggs and saw a ball of black fluff running around in the roosting box.
Welcome to the world
Two of the six eggs hatched on Monday 6 March. Tommy (the darker one) came first. Pam struggled to get out of her egg so we gave her a hand by cracking her out after a few hours like this.
We thought we’d screwed that bit up, but when we gingerly came back to check, Pam seemed pretty happy.
We moved them to a nursery enclosure away from the main flock. Mum kept them safe and warm, and against our expectations, they survived.
5 days old
I’ve been following the recent come-back of Pamela Anderson. I highly recommend her doco on Netflix if you haven’t seen it already. The naming conventions for our chickens is to name them after strong women, and we had this little yellow ‘blonde’ chick. Her name stuck quickly.
I resisted naming Tommy for a while – thinking maybe he’d turn out to be a layer if I just delayed giving him his inevitable name. That, and I like naming my roosters after drag queens rather than rock stars.
We’re still not 100% on their genders, but I’d say I’m about 80% convinced we’re right. It’s still possible Pam might be a rooster.
But Tommy’s comb has got redder much sooner than Pam’s has, and he has some gnarly feathery toes. Both signs that point to their sex conforming to their namesakes.
For the last couple of weeks, Pam and Tommy have been cleaning out and fertilising my garden beds under bird netting enclosures with their mum.
Soon enough, we’ll move that enclosure inside the main chicken fence. We’ll allow them to get to know the main flock while still having some separation and protection.
Then (when they’re big enough), we’ll let them into the main flock. If we’re right and we have one boy and one girl, then we’ll have a decision to make. Generally, one rooster is more than enough. Our current rooster – Alaska Thunderfuck – is fine. He protects his girls and cock-a-doodle-doos about.
We’ll have to see how the boys get along as Tommy matures. Perhaps they’ll be friendly and there won’t be anything to worry about. But if they start scrapping, then we’re a bit attached to Tommy. So it’s possible Alaska might become cat food if he proves to be too aggressive. It’s not a part of the process that I like, but it is part of the process.
The alternative is to dump one of them in a rooster colony down the road, but I don’t like that option much either if I’m honest. It feels like passing off my responsibility. Population control happens down at ‘Chicken City’ on a regular basis anyway.
So for now it’s fun watching Pam and Tommy grow up. Pam will fill the empty ‘seat’ in the chicken coop and we’ll see how she goes. She’s a Hyline-cross, which means she’s probably not going to be a super-efficient layer like her mother.
But it’s not just the price of eggs that’s been going up lately. Buying chooks from the pasture farm has begun to approach the cost of buying a brand new pullet, so finally succeeding in replacing our own flock is an absolute win for us either way.