Tag Archives: chickens

Meet Fuzzy Feather: Our New Incubator-Hatched Baby Bird

We have a new addition to our backyard chickens! “Fuzzy Feather” is here! (You can see more adorable baby birds here and here.) We have seen the birth of lots of chicks, but Fuzzy Feather is our first incubator hatched chick.

incubator hatched baby bird

Out of our dozens of hens, there is usually at least one broody hen able to sit on fertilized eggs when we come by them. “Broody” means the chicken is wanting to sit on eggs to keep them warm and hatch. Before we got our hens in 2010, I though all hens did that, but apparently, it is bred out of most egg-layers. When they are broody, hens lay few eggs, because they are focused on hatching the ones already laid. Heritage breeds, such as Auracana (who lay pretty blue eggs), are more likely to get broody, and most of our broody girls have been Auracanas or Easter Eggers.

incubator hatched baby bird

If you live in an area, like San Diego, that allows for backyard hens but forbids roosters, you can still hatch chickens! Sometimes a friend gives us fertile eggs. This time City Farmers gave us a few for free. (Smart — for the cost of a few eggs, they gain customers to buy chicken feed!) I have even heard of people hatching the “fertile eggs” from Trader Joes and other grocery stores. I plead the Fifth Amendment as to whether there has ever been an illegal rooster on our property.

Our First Time Using an Incubator to Hatch chicks

incubator hatched baby birdAs I mentioned, we have hatched chicks many times, but have always had a momma, or adopted momma, hen do the work. This time none of the girls were in the mood, so when Papa Bird brought home some fertile eggs, we ordered an incubator.

Can you see Fuzzy Feather’s cute face though the condensation? I put a video of the freshly hatched chick on my Instagram story, but it’s disappeared. (I love me some IG, but I still don’t really like stories.)

Chicken Incubators and Supplies

Disclaimer: I’m an Amazon affiliate, meaning some purchases made through links on this site may result in us being paid a small percentage. That being said, here are some supplies we like and you might find useful:

Since hatching was just for fun, we ordered a relatively cheap incubator. You do get what you pay for. Out of three fertile eggs, only one has hatched. Papa Bird explains that temperature is relatively easy to regulate, but humidity is harder. If you get more serious about hatching, or want to have better results, check out this incubator. We haven’t used it, but it has better reviews. You can also add a separate humidity monitor, which is what Papa Bird did.

Have You Ever Hatched Chicks in an Incubator?

What was your experience? Did you get a Fluffy Feather Butter Butt Cotton Tail of your own?

incubator hatched baby bird

Baby Birds No Longer

Today is the 17th and my Baby Bird is 17 months old. She has been a toddler for quite some time. Running, coloring, eating PB&J and saying “no!” (All at the same time.) I suppose it is past due that she get a promotion. From this point on she will now be called “Little Bird.”

She is not our only baby bird growing up. With the passing of Steve, “Bebe,” the chick in our banner and Facebook profile picture, who we watched hatch from an egg, is now our senior hen. She is a proficient layer, laying a large, light brown egg daily.

Bebe, all grown up

Although we don’t have any roosters, we were lucky to watch Bebe and her sibling hatch and grow. A few years ago my husband noticed that one of our hens, Butters, a sweet and social Buff Orpington, was broody. “Broody” hens sit on the eggs all day trying to hatch them. In the wild this is obviously a necessary characteristic in order for the eggs to survive. However, most laying hens have the trait of broodiness bred out of them as it can disincline them to lay more eggs. For the purposes of egg production they simply need to lay the egg and move on.

When picking up our organic, soy-free, Modesto Milling poultry feed and scratch from White Mountains Ranch, Papa Bird chatted with the owner about how to get Butters to stop being so broody. She surprised us by suggesting that we let her! She graciously gave us four fertilized eggs to take home and let her sit on. Butters was a wonderful foster mom. She sat and sat and sat and sat…

And finally, one day in the spring, we had babies!! Two of the eggs hatched. Give me the meanest, grouchiest person, put newborn chicks in front of them and I guarantee they will just melt. There is nothing cuter.

Token and Bebe

One chick was strong and healthy. Since the baby bird had black feathers, well black fuzz, Papa Bird kept the South Park references going and named the chick “Token.” The little one we called “Bebe.” Unfortunately, little Bebe was born with a club foot. Her foot curled in and didn’t open up properly. She couldn’t put weight on it or walk properly. I imagine that back in the old days, on a large farm, such a deformed chicken wouldn’t get the chance to survive. Then again, in modern, large scale egg production the chickens live in cages and aren’t really allowed to walk around. So who knows what they do.

Papa Bird did a little research and decided to try to splint her foot. I was so proud of him and his All Creatures Great and Small skills. As I played nurse and lent extra hands, he experimented with various splints for Bebe. First he tried a little piece of cardboard and some medical tape. Unfortunately, Butters kept pecking at the white cardboard. We were worried she would hurt the poor baby’s foot. Eventually we found that what worked best was just a bandaid or two. Fortunately, after about a week her foot worked well, if a little smaller at first. Now you can’t even tell!

Bebe's BandAid Foot

Token, on the other hand, had a different problem. You see, he ended up being a “he” which is illegal in the City of San Diego! We took him to White Mountains Ranch later that year so he could enjoy the spoils of country life.

Click on any photo in the gallery to enlarge.


Dedicated to the Memory of our Hen Steve

This week our oldest surviving hen passed away, we believe of old age. Her name was Steve.


Steve was an Easter Egger Chicken and laid large, light blue eggs. She was a survivor and an escape artist. Steve was our only chicken to survive the Coyote Massacre of 2011 that decimated our flock and claimed the life of my 12-year-old kitty. Previously, she had been given to us by our neighbors in 2010 and they had no idea how old she was. They had also lost every single chicken to coyotes, except her, and were giving up. They called her “damn chicken”, but we renamed her after a good friend who requested the honor.


Out of our first flock, and the second flock after the Coyote Massacre, Steve was the hen most likely to break out of the enclosure and into the vegetable garden. Once, after we thought that she had stopped laying for a couple of weeks, my husband stumbled upon a hidden catch of eggs that she was laying in secret.


Rest in peace Steve. We will miss you!

Zucchini Bread Pudding: “When Life Gives You Dry Bread…”

So, things didn’t work out as smoothly in my kitchen this past weekend as I would’ve liked. I have to remind myself that the description of this blog includes “Recipes and Experiments…” I nearly started a grease fire in the dutch oven and had to get creative with cookware in order to finish beef short-ribs. And then my zucchini bread turned out dry.


I was literally drafting a blog entitled “The Best Zucchini Bread Ever,” bragging about how moist it is. Ever since Papa Bird has grown summer squash, I have made many, many loaves. I even asked my husband if it would be cocky to reference Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Rule” from his book Outliers which is the theory that merely practicing for at least 10,000 hours, such as the Beatles performing 8 hours/day in Hamburg or Bill Gates playing around with programming as a teen, contributes to genius. My husband said yes, it would sound cocky.

Serves me right that the zucchini bread turned out dry. I still don’t know why. But I will certainly be revamping the recipe before I share it here. What I can share is my practice of seeing opportunity in failure. Dry bread is in fact the best for making bread pudding. A simple pudding, served with Cinnamon and Vanilla Bean Cajeta syrup, alongside super sweet, ripe, organic strawberries made a delicious brunch. (Cajeta is a traditional Mexican caramel syrup, made from goat’s milk. Think of dulce de leche crossed with sweetened condensed milk.)


Zucchini Bread Pudding Recipe

  • 2-3 thick slices of zucchini bread, at least a day old is great
  • 4-5 eggs
  • approx. half a cup of milk

Preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the zucchini bread, unless it is already very stale. Roughly chop it. Place in an oven safe baking dish. (It might be nice to grease it, but I didn’t.) In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add roughly the same volume of milk. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the bread. Bake until set, approximately 25 minutes.

Since the bread is sweet and spiced, and the cajeta is made with cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, I left the batter plain. But you could certainly add a little sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon to the batter. If you have individual sized ramekins, that could be classy, too.

How To Boil the Perfect Fresh Egg

On our little backyard homestead, summer brings not only a bounty of vegetables and herbs, but also a plethora of eggs. Chickens respond to the longer days and increased light and are at their peak of production. This is one reason why commercial egg producers will keep lights on the hens, day and night. We live in San Diego and have never felt the need to add artificial light, but if you live more to the north, it might be something to consider for a few hours a day during the winter months.

This year I have been having fun swapping or trading extra eggs with other local urban homesteaders. In exchange for eggs and some dairy products, we have received homemade jams, fresh salad, kombucha, lemons and lemon curd, AVOCADOS (our absolute fav), home-baked bread, homemade granola, fresh bay leaves, chicken broth and more.

But one of my favorite ways to enjoy extra eggs is to hard boil a batch. Hardboiled egg yolk has also been a staple in baby’s diet, especially during months 6-10. Plenty of people use the following technique, but it was my grandmother who showed me how.

Boiling the Perfect Egg

Step 1: If using fresh eggs, wash them.

Step 2: Place the eggs in a medium-sized pot. Try to have enough eggs so that they are somewhat cozy, without too much room, and only in one layer.


Step 3: Cover the eggs in cold water.

Step 4: Put the pot on high heat and bring to a boil.

Step 5: As soon as the water boils, take it off the heat, cover with a lid and set a timer for 12 minutes.


Step 6: Have a bowl ready with cold water and ice. As soon as 12 minutes are up, pour out the hot water, rinse once with cold tap water and then transfer to the ice bath. If you leave them in the pot to cool, the water will quickly heat up again from the residual heat in the pot and continue cooking the eggs.

Ways to Enjoy the Eggs:

For baby the yummiest combo is half a hardboiled yolk, mashed avocado and breastmilk. My baby is “so over” purées at 11 months but will make an exception for this silky, creamy concoction. No special equipment needed other than a fork for mashing, making this a great combo to take on the road.


Hardboiled eggs make a great quick snack. Just like the raw energy bites, I love having instant food on hand. Oftentimes, when I am making baby something with the yolk, I just pop the white of the egg in my mouth. :)

My go-to summer lunch includes a green salad topped with sliced hardboiled eggs, an artisan balsamic vinegar and olive oil and fresh veggies. You can use any dressing you like, but try a really good balsamic and oil. There is something magical about the way the bits of yolk mix with the vinegar. Perhaps it is emulsifying a little in the mouth?


This salad has spring mix, avocado, hardboiled egg, tomatoes from my garden, snap peas from my mom’s garden, an espresso balsamic, blood orange olive oil and a little truffled goat cheese. The oil and vinegar are from a local shop.


Occasionally fresh eggs will be hard to peel. One tip is to reserve the oldest eggs in your fridge for boiling. Papa Bird shares that thin shells can be a symptom of a calcium deficiency in the chickens. A simple remedy is to feed the hens shells that you have rinsed and crushed up. Since he has been doing that our eggs peel easily now.

Egg yolk can be constipating for babies. At one point we had to cut back from eggs daily to every other day.

And finally: Papa Bird’s tip on how to tell if an egg is raw or hardboiled. Try to spin it like a top… if it spins, it’s cooked. If it wobbles and can’t get a decent spin, it is raw.