Endings … and Beginnings

October 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

I remember reading that a house is not a home until it has been the site of a birth and a death. And as if to prove that life goes on, yesterday morning our package of fertile eggs from Fionna at www.chooks.co.nz arrived.

But the story begins a little earlier. It was time to get eggs for Poppy to hatch, and after much discussion, we couldn’t make up our mind between getting eggs for some more Dorkings, or some more Red Nutters (Rhode Island Reds), or maybe some baby Bessie-boos (a.k.a Barred Plymouth Rock). And, given Claire’s flexible gender issues, it might be nice to have another breed that lays really dark eggs … Beatrice was a non-typical Barnevelder, and it might be nice to have one of them again too …

We spent a couple of days browsing the TradeMe fertile egg listings, and the Rare Breeds Breeders’ Directory, and decided we’d get a mixed dozen-and-a-half, and put the best looking fifteen or sixteen eggs under Poppy. The usual wisdom is that a hen can cover a dozen to a dozen-and-a-half eggs of the size that she lays. To check this, we put old eggs under Poppy for a couple of days, to see how many she could reliably cover. Sixteen eggs didn’t seem to be a problem for her, so that’s what we decided to go with: four each of Barnevelder, Dorking, Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red. Sorted!

So on Saturday (two days before we discovered Venus’s tumour) we paid a visit to Greg at Chook Manor, to collect half a dozen Barnevelder eggs. We had a great time, wandering around admiring his flock and his extensive (and quite impressive) array of chook houses. When we left, he gave us three Sussex eggs as a bonus. (Thanks Greg!)

But the main lot of eggs we decided to get from Fionna Appleton, who runs a number of rare breeds. Greg had spoken very highly of both her birds and her skill at packing eggs for transport. And rightly so, as you can see:

In our usual obsessive fashion, we weighed, photographed, and made notes about all of the eggs. (BV= Barnevelder, SX=Sussex, RIR= Rhode Island Red, DK= Dorking, BR= Barred Plymoth Rock.) Ideally you want the cleanest, most regular-shaped eggs, and usually go for larger rather than smaller eggs (more egg=more room for a chick to grow). Then we selected what we thought were the best four of the Barnevelder eggs, and waited for the recommended 24 hours post-transit settling time before taking the chosen sixteen fertile eggs out to Poppy. (Inevitably, there was an accident – the fourth-ranked Dorking egg came into sharp contact with the edge of the broody as it was being lowered into place, and had to be discarded. So we grabbed the best-looking of the Sussex eggs, and tucked that one in instead.)

Now it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing and leaving Poppy to do her job … and remembering that old saying about eggs, chickens, and the inadvisability of premature calculations.

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