Its a little frustrating having a pen full of chickens and still having to buy shop eggs! Although Corn Chip the gold laved wyandotte started laying again a couple of weeks ago and it looks like Coal the Ancona hen has also started laying, yesterday we picked up three 17 week old Isa Brown pullets that are ready to start laying in the next few weeks, so hopefully we will be back to having regular free range eggs again soon.
I also bought a dozen Rhode Island Red fertile eggs and have set them in the incubator (although one was cracked, so only put eleven in, and a few were laid 31/3 so I think we might have to consider ourselves lucky if 5 or 6 hatch from that lot - definitely a lesson to check all eggs for damage and dates *before* purchasing, especially when paying full price. I've also set eleven of our own eggs - mostly Corn Chips and one or two of Coal's, so I am hoping that we end up with at least six pullets to add to the laying flock at the end of it. Chicken eggs incubate for 21 days, so these are due to hatch on 5th May which is the day the kids go back to school.
Next week I will be adding a dozen Auracana eggs to the incubator, and will continue to collect Corn Chip and Coal's eggs to add as well (assuming the ones incubating now shoe fertility when I candle them in a few days time). We will also be getting some Indian Game bantams - a mix of ages as well as colours - jubiliee, dark and blue. The eldest Jubilee rooster will go in with our larger hens that are now laying (and the RIR hens when they are ready) to start producing meat birds for the table. I have the pens set up so that I can breed the IG separately as well, although its possible that I will eventually be able to run some IG hens with the mixed flock and the IG rooster, as Indian Game eggs are much rounder than normal eggs, so should be able to be identified easily, as will the Auracana eggs as they will be blue-green in colour (just the shell not the insides!).
The little Pekin chicks are growing well and have become quite friendly - little Caramel escapes the pen and comes running whenever she sees me, which shows how little she is as her brother can't fit through the chicken wire like she can. A decision will have to be made soon about the two Silkie and four Pekin Roosters we have, as I can only justify keeping one Pekin Roo, and even then I am not 100% sure on breeding the Pekins, as I predominantly wanted the hens as broodies and have enough now for that purpose. I've also decided not to breed Silkies as we planned as there are at least two other people breeding them locally, which makes getting rid of roosters impossible (apart from their tiny size, Silkies have black skin and bones which turns most people off eating them).
The weather continues to be warm and dry, although we did get 14mm of rain last week. It has been dry and getting hotter this week, today it got to 31 degrees which is very hot for this time of year. The whole district is brown and dry, we have seen some farmers turning soil, burning off the remains of last years crops and some fertilizing, but everyone has their fingers crossed that this year won't be a repeat of last winters pitiful rainfall.