Some of you may remember my post from a couple of years ago about Banty, our surrogate chicken.
Banty is our sweet-natured little Bantam hen.
Bantam chickens are known for their setting/hatching capabilities, and she is no exception: she hatched very large 4 turkey eggs for us, and later, hatched some eggs from other chickens. But she never seemed interested in hatching her own eggs.
Well, last summer, she finally did it: she had her very own clutch of eggs to hatch - 11 of them to be exact. The eggs were so small, not much bigger than a ping-pong ball. We wondered if all the eggs would hatch or only some of them. But given Banty's track record, we were confident that most of the eggs would hatch.
We waited and waited. The children checked on her several times aday to see if any had hatched.
Finally, the big day arrived and we were thrilled to see this when we checked on her that afternoon...
..10 of the eleven eggs had hatched! And they were smallest chicks we had ever seen!
Banty was so proud of her babies and gathered them under her wings whenever we got too close - she was very protective of them.
Seeing that reminded me of the Lord Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 : "...How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."
When they were old enough, Banty took her chicks out into the yard to teach them how to free range.
See how proudly she is strutting around, showing off her babies? ;)
They grew fast and are now excellent foragers, eating all types of insects. They especially like grazing in the barn yard. Here they are now, all grown-up and beautiful.
I love the variety of colors.
There are 8 hens and 2 roosters. Notice the two roosters on either side of the flock, standing guard. ;)
Since these chicks were born in the summer, their egg-laying cycle began in the dead of winter, as in the first of the year. But we collected the eggs, and were thankful for fresh eggs, even though they were so small. Then, a little later, 2 of the hens disappeared. We looked everywhere, but couldn't find them.
Until Asher discovered this..
"Banty the Second", as the children call her (because she could pass for her mama's twin), is on 12 eggs! She was in the hatch-out coop all the time. We had been looking everywhere but there.
And a few days later, we found this..
another of Banty's offspring (named "Hoodie" because of her rust-colored hood) on 9 eggs! She has made her nest under the lean-to next to the shed...amidst the mowers, bikes, and dirtbikes. And on a nest of gravels!
Hopefully, the nest is lined with some soft grass.
If all - or even most - of these eggs hatch, we will be inundated with Bantam chickens. And what in the world will we do with all those tiny baby chicks in the middle of winter?
Why, bring them inside near the woodstove , of course, where they will be nice and warm. :)
Stay tuned, friends...I will let you know when the "big day" arrives.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!