Our first three chicks were hatched from the incubator in late-April and were followed a month later by eight more. They became known as the blue team and the yellow team because of the tags we put on their legs to remind us when they were born, how old they were and when they would mature into egg laying hens. That was the plan.
Unfortunately two weeks ago the yellow team were taken by a fox or other predator - during the day and with no noise, not even disturbing our dogs which is worrying - leaving just a couple of feathers. And yesterday a chicken farmer confirmed my worst fears - the blue team are all cockerels! And so they will be dispatched later today.
This will be a first for us and will no doubt bring us many regrets. However, we have raised these birds with a purpose in mind, knowing full well that if they were not hens we would eat them. They have had a fine time living in the open air and being well looked after. Their diet has been well supplemented by worms and other insects they have found in the garden and it has been a joy to have them following me through the flower beds while I weed. I weed, they feed on the bugs bought to the surface.
We have more eggs due to hatch next week. We timed these ones to hatch when my mother-in-law will be staying. She is blind and we thought this would be a surprise for her as she will be able to hold them before the end of her stay. She follows our life in France very closely (I write that without any of the usual daughter-in-law irony!) and was staying with us when I gave Max the incubator for his birthday. I sincerely hope there will be at least two hens this time - although comments about not counting chickens come to mind! We do still have our original two hens and one cockerel but I find that two eggs a day are not sufficient - especially when our sons start cooking brownies for tea! - and I really resent having to supplement them with shop bought eggs.