Wednesday, January 18, 2012
A around 2 weeks ago Speckles the hen went missing. She is our only Speckled Sussex hen and lays beautiful large brown eggs. She is one of the domestic hens we purchased as a chick from the local farmer's Supply store last spring. Although she a domestic hen, she has always had an independent wild streak. She has never hung out in the pen with the other domestic ladies, or even connected with my free ranging flock of English game birds. She has always found a way to escape out of the pen, and spends her days scratching around the edge of the woods alone. She is notorious for hiding her eggs, so we are always keeping an eye on her to figure out where she is laying so we can still collect eggs.
i've honestly been very surprised that we didn't lose her yet. There so many predators here that our free-ranging birds typically get picked off during the fall. This year we lost 3 roosters in two days. :( Our remaining rooster hasn't really stepped up to 'head' rooster yet, and he often hangs out in the coop and leaves my free-ranging ladies on their own. My speckled hen would be easy prey to any predators that are hiding in the woods. her only defense, her feather patterning gives her some camouflage.
So when i first noticed she was missing i wasn't that surprised. It had occurred to me that she might possibly have a nest hidden somewhere, but because of the time of year it was much more likely that she'd been taken by a fox or hawk. i looked around for her in the places she typically hid her eggs, but didn't find her. It always sucks losing a hen.
It was a few days after this that my husband was moving the hay in the shed, and found her!!! :) She had made a nest of the backside of our hay roll.
She has a nice clutch of eggs, and has been incubating them for around 10 days now. :) We are really hoping to be hatching out chicks around the beginning of Feb. even though it's really the wrong time of year for new babies. It has been pretty cold out, and i'm not exactly sure my rooster has even been doing his job...so there is a chance her eggs are not fertilized. If she is able to hatch some out, she'll be a first time mother. The chicks will be a cross between Speckled Sussex/English Game.
We didn't have much luck hatching out peeps that last year, and so i'm really hoping for some new peeps!