We’ve had a few Buff Orpington hens go broody lately (in addition to the one that insisted on hatching a clutch of eggs last fall). Given that we’ve got eggs coming out our ears, I figured there was no harm in allowing them to set.
Note to readers who are learning about/taking up farming in preparation for civilizational collapse, or who simply want to hatch their own chicks: Buff Orpingtons are a wonderfully self-sufficient breed. We’ve found them to be excellent setters and mother hens.
Broody #1 started hatching her chicks a few days ago, and yesterday took her chicks for their first stroll off the nest. I checked on her last night, and she had all seven of her chicks safely under her wings; there is really nothing quite like listening to the deep, reassuring clucks that a hen makes to her brood in a darkened barn.
Today, she took all of them for an outdoor adventure:
She quickly found a spot where Little Brother spilled some grain, and had the chicks getting their first good meal. I’m just glad the spilled feed didn’t go to waste. Then she took them into a weedy/overgrown area between the barn and the garage.
I managed to shoot a brief, low-tech video. (It’s the very first one I’ve uploaded to YouTube.) My sense was that a still photo wouldn’t give the full sense of how fascinating a mother hen’s behavior is. She clucks constantly, and is constantly pointing out new food, and scratching to uncover new food. And watch the way the chicks respond to her!
About five minutes after I shot this, she seemed to have decided the chicks had been exposed to the 55 degree temps for long enough. Like a football quarterback, she called a huddle — and all of them found their way back under her feathers. No telling how long she’s going to sit out there before scratching around again. But she’s picked a safe spot for the huddle; it’s in a corner, and she has a full view of everything approaching.
Hard to think of any place better for homeschooling than a farm is. We never run out of real life education here.