The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Green Eggs & Hilda

It took exactly one week, and, like most things in life, it wasn't without its bumps and twists, but Hilda the Hen now has a supposedly fertilized clutch of a half dozen eggs to set. Of course, that is the synopsis, but not the whole story...

As many of you know, I originally ordered eggs from Ebay--choosing a seller with a high satisfaction ranking who could ship small batches of eggs, in breeds we would appreciate, in a time frame that would work for us.  Without going into too much aggravated detail, that didn't work out.  The eggs didn't get sent, we weren't notified, I followed up, promises made, promises broke, I demanded a refund, and Hilda was still sitting on a few plastic Easter eggs.

I felt like I was failing as Hilda's steward and Teri and I both felt a little frustrated about the whole process.  So, we had a "Plan B" confab: Do we let her keep setting on the fakies until her broodiness runs its course? Do we take her off the nest and try to break her broodiness? Do we look for hatching eggs elsewhere? Do we get a couple chicks in a week or two and sneak them in under her at night?While we tend to feel like total hayseed beginners with everything farm-related, we realized that we already knew more than we had a year ago.  First, Hilda is inclined to be a seriously determined mama-to-be.  If we take her off the nest, there is a good chance she will get right back on in a day or two.  If we let her set, hatch and raise some babes, she will likely get back into the flow of egg laying and living life among the flock sooner than if we keep battling broodiness all summer. Teri mused that she didn't particularly like the idea of trying to "graft" a few chicks onto her because if Hilda should choose not to adopt them, we'd have chicks in the house, in our brooder, in June. Also, Teri isn't convinced that Hilda won't know they didn't actually hatch from eggs. So...we decided to try again to find some fertilized eggs for Hilda...this time closer to home.

A search for "hatching eggs" on Craigslist in the "farm & garden" section turned up some possibilities.  I perused the possibilities and decided to reach out to a few with breeds we'd appreciate and see who was motivated to get back to me for a "next day" pick up. This was all late Thursday night. By early Friday morning, I'd arranged to pick up what I thought would be 4 Araucana and 2 Orpington eggs at 5 pm that evening--when the seller farmer got home from work. Teri promised that if I procured them, she'd be the one to go into the maternity ward and do the swap out with Hilda.  We were cautiously optimistic.

When I got to the urban farmette, the woman I'd been arranging with, wasn't home from work yet, but she had her older father on alert for my arrival.  He was super apologetic that he had only pulled one Orpington egg out of the hen house that day, but showed me a carton where the hatching eggs were and said I could have more of something else.  He didn't know what the other eggs were though!  In the spirit of giddy adventure, I took one of the dark brown eggs as substitute and thought we'd just see if and when the egg hatched.  When I got home, we put an "A" on all the Araucana eggs, and "O" on the little Orpington egg and a "?" on the other one.  And, out we went to see what Hilda would think.

Hilda was not happy to be lifted off what she thought was her clutch of eggs, but Teri soothed her and moved quickly--tucking the new eggs up into her nest.  Hilda immediately started rolling them under her fluffy chest using her beak.  It was pretty cool to watch! Anticipating pecks and squawks, we were surprised that Hilda seemed to be working with us and Teri didn't really need the bee gloves she'd worn for protection after all.

As of this morning, Hilda is sitting proud and determined on her eggs.  I know I might be making it up, but there seems to be a happier, calmer, more content air about her--as if she knows she's really in the egg hatching business now!

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