By Eric Guel
After a bantam hen and random pullet went broody a few weeks ago, our little farm had another round of chicks hatch last week. The foster moms did famously, sitting on their respective clutches with religious devotion, despite the string of 100+ degree afternoons we’ve recently had (welcome to Texas, y’all!).
Alas, it must have been the heat, or some other force of Mother Nature, because the bantam was only able to bring four out of six eggs to fruition, and her nondescript counterpart only managed to successfully hatch three out of nine! Oh well, such is farm life. The good news is now we’ve got seven new chicks, and, Lord willing, the brood will grow into four laying hens and three chicken dinners.
In other poultry news we’ve got 13 juvenile ducks that will be ready to harvest in about a month or so. Muscovy ducks, while often homely (as in dog ugly!), come with many pluses: they don’t quack; they reproduce on their own; they eat flies (and other bugs) like crazy; and they’re great for the dinner table. If I had to be stranded on an island with either chickens or ducks, I’d choose chickens for sure, but ducks are a fun supplement!
So that’s where we’re at in the battle to be sustainable, at least in this little area of our lives. It’s a good feeling to have a freezer full of fowl flesh you’ve processed, and a counter full of fresh, free-range eggs. And while self-incubating the little guys and gals is probably a good solution for some, we’ve found no one does it better than a mama hen.