Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

The April 9 Hatching

This batch of Rhode Island Red eggs is due to hatch on April 9. This is the first batch of eggs from these hens and rooster, so we’ll see what happens. The rooster has an interesting sounding crow – it is more like that of a small bantam rooster. I hope that is an inherited trait!

This batch of eggs has been scrapped due to my own negligence. We had a power outage for about 12 hours several days ago. I cranked up the generator and ran the incubator (as well as the water pump and the office), but when I plugged the incubator back into the wall outlet, I plugged in the incubator but not the egg rotator. What I thought was the plug for the rotator was the plug for the seed starting heating mat. They might have still successfully hatched, but if only a few hatched, I didn’t want to try mixing the chicks after starting a second batch. The new batch will probably be started in about a week.

One major point for Wyandotte’s comment! Momma Hen doesn’t care about electrical power.

Hatched by Momma hen - Buff Orpington

Having chicks hatched the “natural way” is, of course, the best way to go. I previously had some broody Buff Orpingtons, but this current group has shown absolutely no interest in setting on the eggs – a major disappointment for me.


  1. Wyandotte

    Well. I am thrilled to find a site that understands that there is no substitute for small-scale agriculture, but, gosh, why would you use unnatural reproductive technology to get some chicks? It’s wrong for people, and it’s wrong to do this with animals. I know that Rhodies are not often broody, but other varieties of chicken are. I never resorted to artificial hatching (not for my chicks or my kids…)

    Anyway, that’s the way I see it.

  2. Stephen Clay McGehee

    Thanks for the comments, Wyandotte! While I don’t see it as “wrong”, I certainly prefer having the hens do the job. I would like to get a Cuckoo Maran or two for that task, but two things are holding me back: 1) I’m not ready to place an order for the minimum shipping quantity, and 2) the roosters have a reputation for being pretty aggressive, and if I can’t raise the broody hens in a sustainable manner, it loses a lot of the appeal.

    The Buff Orpington roosters I had were pretty mean, but I have had worse. The RIR rooster that I now have has (so far, anyway) been very gentle. My ideal would be to have the RIR hens hatch and raise the chicks, but that is pretty much unheard of today. They lost all broodiness decades ago.

    There is a “sub breed” called Triple Production Reds that had RIR in the mix. I’ve been unsuccessful in locating a source for them. They were developed for use in Third World countries where production of eggs, meat, and chicks was the goal (thus the name). They just aren’t a commercial breed here in the US though.

    Any comments or suggestions would be most appreciated. My goal is sustainability without dependence on electricity (even solar, which I have used previously).

  3. Wyandotte

    I am sorry about the death of your eggs. Hope you have better luck with the next batch. I have heard that if you want your hens to go broody, you have to do something to raise their body temperature. Not natural, but there you go. I recall reading about people putting a bit of cayenne pepper into the hens’ water; they will drink more & more and somehow something is stimulated. Maybe just an “old wives” tale? I will hunt down the book where I read this, I know I have it in the mess somewhere…

    I just love that sweet photo of hen + chicks that you posted.

    Boy, did you bring back a memory for me with your mention of Orpington roosters. Some years ago I had a bunch of Orpingtons and one of the roosters was the meanest imaginable; we named him Killer Boy. He would chase us all over the yard, up the steps of our house, and even inside. Could I make this up. I’d have to walk everywhere with a pitchfork.

    My grandmother, I was told, would take a length of soft cloth, tie one end to any vicious rooster’s leg, and the other end onto a stake in the ground. So that way he could still move around. She would provide food & water within his reach. I tried this but my Killer Boy always escaped. One fine day the other roosters ganged up on him and one of his eyes was damaged. See, that’s what you get when you’re not nice.

    Just in case you think all RIR roosters are nice, I have 1 RIR rooster + 2 RIR hens in the garage for the winter. I picked up one of the hens, just to stroke her, and the old boy made short work of me. It HURTS to be attacked by a rooster!

    You certainly want to live without technological help, I see, i.e., no electricity from any source. I was wondering if this is a sort of preparation for total collapse of our gone-to-the-dogs world, or just to challenge yourself. Hope you have family to help you in any case.

    While we live in the north (Kommunist Kanada), my husband spent some time in the south back in the late 60s, I think. He found it to be an utterly unique culture, unlike any other part of the USA. I don’t know exactly what your politics are, but he ended up being a big defender of the southern breakaway states, despiser of Lincoln, etc. Hope I haven’t spoken out of turn.

    I’m happy to have found your southern agrarian site. Best to you. – W.

  4. Stephen Clay McGehee

    Your husband’s politics sound very much like mine. In the list of links on the right side of the page, you’ll see one for Confederate Colonel. That is also my blog – I think your husband will find himself right at home there.

    My reason for not wanting to depend on electricity is, in short, that our very existence is now entirely dependent on the uninterrupted supply of electricity and the petroleum that fuels that electricity. It is my firm belief that the day will come when that will no longer be the case. I refuse to be standing with my family in a government handout line begging for my survival. I certainly don’t try to live without electricity now though (kind of tough since I own a software business). I just want to know that I can still continue some reasonable semblance of life without electricity. The hurricanes that went through this area in 2004 provided a good test for me.

    The whole topic of motivation and reason for choosing the Agrarian lifestyle is going to be the topic of a post – or series of posts – on this blog. This next week will be a busy one for me (still have a business to run as well as chickens and a garden), but that is an important topic.

    I plan to list the various reasons/motivations that folks have for what we do, and then elaborating on them a bit. I’m confident that most people have a variety of reasons and not just a single narrow one. If you’d care to pass along any thoughts along that line, I’d certainly love to hear from you – the “Contact us” form would probably work well for that.

    Roosters – I sure hope this RIR rooster doesn’t change, but I’ve heard that all roosters get worse with age. This one just seems to have a different personality than others that I’ve seen, so I’m hopeful. When I had the Buff Orpington roosters, I had a “rooster stick” that hung by the gate. I always carried it with me. When he attacked me, I chased and hit him until he either ran away so that I couldn’t catch him or until I had him cornered and made sure that he knew it was surrender or die. That would usually work for a day or two until he decided to try it again and we went through the whole routine all over again.

    Chickens can do some serious damage. Several years ago, I came close to losing an eye when a panicked hen tried to get past me and her claw cut my face right across my eye. Just a tiny fraction of an inch deeper and I would be blind in that eye. As it was, it just required a simple doctor’s visit. I now have tremendous respect for any animals – even chickens.

    Keep in touch!

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