Baby chicks. Isn’t that sweet? One hundred ten people hit “like” on that one, which, of course, is what Nicole is after. If they hit “like,” that’s an interaction with the page and then Facebook runs more of Nicole’s crap through that person’s wall. The ultimate goals are attention and donations, not necessarily in that order.
But they are cute. They appear to be about a week or so old. They are already starting to feather out a little.
And that’s the problem.
There is something wrong here.
To see what I mean, let’s rewind.
This is from June of 2014. I include it just to show that having chickens disappear, get killed, gone, whatever is not a new occurrence at the Blessed Little Property. It’s actually the status quo.
On June 22 that year, Nicole took one of the kids to “pick up his baby chicks” and four days later, they were dead.
And it was the third time they’d lost all the chickens. It would not, of course, be the last. If you’re a baby chick and you get purchased by the Nauglers or hatch out at the Blessed Little Killing Ground, your days are probably not going to be many.
Yeah, let’s talk about chickens and eggs. To get eggs, first you have to successfully raise the damn chicks, something that has been a real challenge, it seems.
The first week in April (2016) they were “getting our first set of laying hens.” She says that they only had one hen then (sometime prior to the “first week in April”) due to a dog with a taste for chicken. This is two entire years after the third batch of chicks were all killed – by a dog.
You’d think they’d learn.
It will be nice to have fresh eggs again.
Yeah, it would, wouldn’t it? If any of them lived long enough to lay an egg.
April 29. One “peep.” It appears to be several weeks old.
By May 21 we’re hearing about the chicken coop that one of the kids is building, and told that the chicks will be big enough to go out there by the time it is finished. When Nicole says “we,” she actually means somebody else, not her. She does not lift a hammer. Joe does not lift a hammer. Kids lift hammers.
Anyway, the point here is that the laying hens they were going get in April either didn’t get got or got eaten. I’m not sure which. They were replaced quickly by a bunch of purchased day-old chicks, probably hatched out in early May.
These chicks were brooded in the garden shed. Nicole posted pictures and video of them. I almost gagged when I saw it.
We have an incubator and from time to time, hatch out chicks as replacements for their parents, which seems sort of mean, but that’s the cold hard facts of life for chickens. Anyway, the very first time we did this, we brooded them in a stock tank in our living room. It seemed like the safest place. We spread the bottom of the rubber tank with shavings and put the chicks in there with plenty of water and food. It was lovely and cute and sweet.
And then they started to grow and they started to stink.
I can’t describe how they stank.
We couldn’t put them in the garage because of the cats, who live in the garage at night. We were stuck. I was so glad when those chicks finally got big enough to leave the house and go out to their little tractor. The smell was gone and all I had to do was entirely vacuum the whole house to get rid of the dust and dander.
Never again. Dave built a wooden-framed wire cover for the tank and they are brooded in the garage with the cats who have learned to ignore them since they cannot reach them.
And then when they feathered out enough, they went out to the tractor.
So, I include all that to illustrate that we have incubated chicks, raised them from the egg and grown them up and then repeated the same steps a couple of years later to grow their replacements. We keep the girls and butcher the little roosters. And I plan the timeline to do this so that they hatch when the weather is mild and grow nicely and then go out to the tractor while the weather is still mild and are pretty much grown before winter sets in.
On May 31 Nicole tells us that they have 21 chicks, plus two bantams. And one hen. One hen. I would assume that is the same lone hen we saw in the photo above dated April 29.
And on June 24, here’s a photo of one of the kids holding one of the chicks. This is most likely one of the Buff Orpingtons. That’s what our chickens are/have been for the last several years. That chick is fully feathered out, so the age would be about right.
But then on July 28, we are treated to a photo of some day old (or two day old) babies. Aren’t they cute?
Day old chick, I’d say. Kid who needs a bath, I’d say.
Anyway, July 28. None of those May chicks hatched out those eggs. They came entirely from the only hen the Nauglers have, the one pictured above.
She hatched out ten. Two eggs remain. That’s not unusual. Hens do a better job than incubators, but still there are eggs that don’t make it. Either they were never fertilized, or the chick dies early, or something goes wrong. And every now and then one will simply be late.
Here’s the deal, and this is important to understand. The Nauglers have one hen. That hen does not lay an egg every day. No hen does. White Leghorns (the kind who lay the eggs you buy in the grocery store) are the super-duper layers of the chicken world, bred specifically to do that – lay eggs. And a White Leghorn can lay a bit more than 300 eggs annually. That’s still not an egg every day.
The Naugler hen looks like a Rhode Island Red or some mixture. She would lay maybe 250 eggs per year if she was really doing well. That’s a scrawny-looking hen, so my guess is that she doesn’t lay that many eggs. I would guess an egg every other day would be about what she does.
To get 12 eggs to set, she has to lay one and then two days later lay another one and then two days after that lay another one. In between, she does not set them. The heat from her body triggers the little embryo in the egg to begin growing, and as long as the temperature stays cool, the chick will not start to develop.
So, at our house, when we want to collect eggs for the incubator, we put them in egg cartons and store them in the cool basement until I have enough. In our case, that’s generally a few days. I prop one end of the cartons on something and flip it every day, so that the eggs don’t stay in the same position for days. The hen does the same thing. She moves them but doesn’t set them.
When she thinks she has enough eggs (12 is pretty much the max she can set on), she’ll start sitting on them and from that point forward, she does not leave those eggs except to eat, drink and go potty. She also ceases laying eggs.
She stays there for 21 days, when they begin to hatch. This is the reason that sometimes an egg or two simply fails to develop. In the case of the Naugler hen, she probably collected eggs for the better part of two weeks, maybe even three, before commencing to set them. I don’t like to incubate an egg over a week old. If there were multiple hens, they simply set on each others’ eggs, so a broody hen can collect a clutch in a few days.
After the chicks are hatched, the hen becomes the stereotypical “mother hen” and takes care of her babies. She does not lay eggs during this period, and if you think about it, you’ll understand why. If she laid eggs, she would have to pay those eggs some attention, and once she had enough, she would have to set them. Who is gonna take care of the already hatched babies if she does that? (It’s the same reason that once the majority of her eggs have hatched, she will abandon the ones that didn’t. She sacrifices the not-yet born chicks to care for the ones who are already hatched out and trotting about.)
From the time that a hen begins to store eggs for hatching until she ceases caring for the hatched-out babies, she is called a “broody hen.” Broody hens do not lay eggs. It’s a hormonal thing. The exact time period varies from hen to hen, but generally lasts anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks.
Now then, if dogs kill and eat all her babies, she might well cease the broodiness and go back to laying, but still that would take a week or so. Most hens, if allowed to set eggs and hatch them out, don’t do that again until the following spring. (Actually most modern breeds of chickens don’t get broody in the first place. We bought Buffs on purpose because they do have a broody tendency. Most people do not want their hens to go broody because they want eggs, not chicks, so broodiness has been bred out of them. )
So, there we are. Our broody hen hatched out 10 chicks on July 28.
She then spent the next five or so weeks being a mamma hen. She was not laying any eggs during that period. I am being generous here. I am assuming that at the end of five weeks, she was done with her chicks and went immediately, like the next day, back to laying. This is all highly unlikely, but since it’s theoretically possible, we’ll give all the allowance we can.
The pink days would then be two weeks for her to lay eggs and collect them to form a new clutch. That’s also highly unlikely but theoretically possible, so that’s how we’ll assume it happened.
I count about nine chicks in the original photo. A minimum of nine days, but that’s nigh on impossible.
So let’s assume that she started setting those eggs on the 15th (blue).
That would put the chicks hatching on October 6 (and they really do not vary much from exactly 21 days – you can almost set your watch by the timing).
So, you say, that photo was taken on October 5 – you’re off one day in your timeline.
There is a big problem, though.
Those are not day-old chicks.
That’s a newly hatched chick. Minutes old.
These are day-old chicks.
The chicks in that photo above are probably a week old. They already appear to be feathering out.
The Naugler’s lone hen did not, simply did not, hatch out a clutch of eggs on July 28 and hatch out another by September 29.
I call bullshit.
I have no idea why she did this, or why she thinks it’s a good idea to lie about stuff like this. Maybe she thinks this looks all homesteady. Maybe they bought the chicks someplace. Maybe the hen did not actually set them and hatch them out, but she certainly implies that she did.
And while I’m on the subject of “What the Fuck?” there is this.
Here’s some firewood. Great.
Okay, a “rick” is a weird term. It’s imprecise and a word we’d never heard until we moved to Kentucky. We’ve heated with wood (solely except in Alaska) for many years, in South Carolina and North Carolina and partially in Alaska, and never heard that word.
Firewood is measured in cords. A cord is 4′ X 4′ X 8′. A “rick” is described sometimes as a “face cord.” It’s usually 4′ X whatever length you cut the wood X 8′. In other words, it’s one row of a cord. A cord would be whatever number of rows you need to get a four-foot depth. If you cut 12″ logs, then you’d need four rows, each four feet high and eight feet long, to make a cord. So a “rick” would be 1/4 cord.
If you cut the wood 16″, you’d only have three rows, so a “rick” would be 1/3 cord.
As I said, it’s imprecise.
Those logs look longer than 12″, so I am going to assume that Nicole’s “rick” is 1/3 cord.
If that is the case, then they burned through 10 cords of firewood last winter.
I’m going to repeat that. She is stating that they burned 10 cords of firewood last winter.
You guys, we live in a 1500 square foot house. That’s about five times bigger than the Blessed Little Garden Shed. And there are only two people in this house, so there is not a huge amount of body heat involved. Furthermore, we heat water with wood. In winter, I cook with wood.
In short, we burn through some wood. Seriously. We don’t go off this property to work, so we are here most of the time, day and night. During the cold weather, our fire never goes out. We like to be comfortable, so we keep the house pretty warm in the winter.
And we don’t use anywhere close to 10 cords of firewood.
Here’s some of it. We get most of our firewood from a local business that makes pallets, so ours comes all square like that. We buy it in huge dump truck loads, and one of those will pretty much take us through a winter.
Anyway, I got curious, so I measured what we have.
We have approximately 6 cords of firewood. Six. And that will last us at least two years, perhaps three.
Maybe Nicole just doesn’t have a clue how big a cord is. Maybe she has no idea how much firewood they actually burn. Maybe she just spits out stuff without thinking about what she’s saying.
And we finish out with this. It’s intended to be a poke at me, because I compared her to my cow.
I think I’ve sort of shown that the hen, that one hen, has not exactly had her offspring “grow up to be productive members of their chicken society.” Most of them didn’t grow up but became either playthings for dogs or food for other predators. In addition, apart from those few weeks after hatch, hens don’t “raise” chicks at all.
The Nauglers go through baby chicks like popcorn (according to my count, they have had 30 of them on the property just this year alone), and have ended up with one hen and maybe twelve roosters.
But that’s okay, Nicole. Aldi had eggs this week for $0.39 per dozen. Live it up.
Well, Nicole, who has trouble with comprehending stuff, took a video of the hen with her babies and said, “See? There they are.”
But then, she had to admit to what I was getting at in this entire post.
You see, broodiness in a hen (which means no eggs are laid) is something like the suppression of ovulation that occurs in a nursing mother. It’s not precisely the same thing, but it’s similar.
While nursing is not a fool-proof birth control method, as many women have discovered the hard way, it does space babies a bit more than if the mother does not nurse the baby.
Same deal with a hen. If she hatches out babies, she’s broody by definition, and not laying eggs. She will continue to not lay any eggs as long as she has babies to take care of. The act of mothering those chicks releases hormones that suppress egg production.
Take away the babies, and you take away the broodiness. Instead of a normal 4-5 week post-hatching broody period, you have a one-week recovery (maybe two) and she’s back to laying.
Nicole admits that the other clutch of chicks met with the usual Naugler livestock tragedy and were eaten. She, of course, blames the neighbors for this, since it’s always everyone else’s fault for their failures and never their own, but they were eaten nonetheless.
So Mama Hen had no babies to raise. So Mama Hen went back to laying.
Now the scenario is realistic. And we’re back to “the overwhelming majority of baby chicks that arrive on that property are food for wildlife, or more likely, the Naugler dogs.”
Of course, I saw the video and those chicks and mom are running loose as usual and therefore they are not long for this world.
If you can’t even raise chickens successfully, you’re really not good at this. Chickens are far and away the easiest “livestock” to raise.