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Hunter: Laying An Egg

02/25/10 5:55PM By Edith Hunter
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(HOST)  Commentator Edith Hunter is beginning to look forward to spring - and baby chicks - one of the hallmarks of the season.

(HUNTER)  We have always had a flock of chickens so you might think nothing new could happen on that front, but you'd be wrong.
 
Every two years we buy a dozen day-old chicks to replenish the flock. I used to buy a mix - a few barred rock, a few Rhode Island Reds, and a few exotic types.
 
But someone pointed out that if I bought all of one kind one year and a different kind the next I would be able to tell which were the old hens and which the new. So two years ago I bought 12 black sex-linked chicks. This year I bought a dozen Rhode Island Reds.

Day-old chicks need at least a month of heat so I put them in the brooder on the porch. That brooder has its own story. When son William was ten years old he was addicted to attending auctions. Since he worked in his father's print shop after school, he had his own money to spend.
 
He always wanted to stay to the bitter end of the auctions since he had learned that the auctioneer, eager to get rid of everything, was apt to put together hard-to-sell items resulting in great bargains. We developed the practice of leaving Will to be picked up at the end of the day.

When we arrived on this occasion Will was standing surrounded by the usual boxes of old books, a couple of broken down chairs, and a large metal object. I expressed my strong disapproval of the metal object. He explained it was a brooder and the auctioneer said it worked.

I was not mollified, but we piled it in the back of the station wagon and drove home. I have had to swallow my disapproving words as we have raised chicks in that wonderful brooder for 45 years. The heating unit has never failed.

When the chicks no longer needed heat we moved them into the old turkey house with a fenced-in yard. In early October one of the chickens insisted on flying to the top of the fence, and wandering around outside. Graham, who was in charge of locking them in at night, would always find her, gather her up in his arms, and put her back with the others.

By late October the Rhode Island Reds were beginning to lay, and Graham moved them in with "the old girls", and our one rooster. Even in her new environment, the wanderer continued to wander, and Graham always managed to find her. They developed a close relationship.

On a recent occasion, Graham not only found her, but found two nests - one with 7 eggs and one with 6. Graham gathered her up and brought her into the house to tell us about his find. As he cuddled her in his arms, she laid an egg.
 
Now that was a first!
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