Monday, February 22, 2010

The hatch is done.

We started with 16 eggs, put 12 into Lockdown, and had 9 chicks hatch. My dear husband couldn't stand it any longer and opened up the remaining three eggs. One had never developed and two were dead. It happens I guess. Even a hen probably doesn't have 100% hatch rate every time.

So we have nine new furry babies on the dining room table. I should be able to tell fairly soon if they will have the frizzled feathers. The two oldest chicks have already started to get their wing feathers in! All chicks are well and growing. The incubator is washed and put up in the garage, waiting for another chance to hatch some eggs.

Our basement remodel is finally done too so things are rolling right along! And pretty soon we'll be able to get our boat out of storage and start playing on the Lake. Can't wait for Spring!

Nine chicks... three still to hatch

Chicks have been hatching all weekend! We now have 9 total. Three eggs are still in the incubator but I'm not holding out much hope. Not everyone hatches. The kids are loving them and Annaliese spends many moments each hour "holding the baby chicks". She's a good mommy.

And for my sister-in-law, here's a picture with a ruler as requested!

Born on Saturday, a frizzled cochin. My favorite chick.

Also born Saturday, another frizzled cochin.

Nine little chicks.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another chick and a problem

Here's what I have learned the last few days:

Watching chickens hatch is amazing.
It is also very bloody and can take a lot longer than you want it to take.
Newborn baby chicks look like aliens for the first few hours. Not pretty!

All 4 baby chicks made it successfully through the night but I noticed immediately that we have a problem. One of the white chicks has spraddle leg. This apparently happens to some chicks that can't get their footing right away. It looks like they are ice skating (which is kind of cute) but it has to be fixed. Spraddle leg is basically a weak leg so the chick can't stand up, walk or get around without doing the splits.

A quick trip to the internet helped us figure out what to do and we became Poultry Physical Therapists. Little chick now has a rubber band tied around its legs which helps him stay upright. So far he's taken it off once but we have it on a little more securely now. He'll need to wear the band for about a week, during which time his weak leg should gain enough muscle to support the chick on its own. At least now he can get around although he really doesn't like the rubber band.

At 10:30 this morning, our first frizzled cochin was born. My heart already belongs to all my silkies and I think they are the most beautiful chicks in the world. I still had high expectations for the cochins and couldn't wait to see what they would look like. Shock! This one came out looking like a freaky alien. Poor thing. A face only a mother could love!

Thankfully now that he's dry, he looks a little better and is comfortably ensconced with the rest of the chicks. They tried to peck his eye out when I first put him in, but they seem to have all settled down now. He's the yellow one. You can see the rubber band on that poor little white one. Bless his little chicken heart.

We had a nice visit with Grandmother the past few days. She enjoyed meeting the donkeys and holding one of the baby goats. And all the chicks enjoyed having an afternoon in the warm sun.

Last Saturday, we were out sledding and enjoying the beautiful snowfall. This Saturday, it's almost 70 degrees and sunny. What a difference a week makes!

Friday, February 19, 2010

4 chicks and counting!

As of this morning, we have 4 adorable, fluffy, sleepy baby chicks. Our third baby was born late yesterday evening. It emerged from his shell, laid on his back and starting kicking, kicking, kicking. The shell wouldn't let go! The poor baby would rest and kick, rest and kick.... to no avail. It couldn't quite disconnect itself from the shell. Since I wasn't supposed to open the incubator, I finally decided to just go to bed and hope in the morning it would be free and running around.

My son woke me up early, early today so we could go see the chicks. We arrived to find the number 4 had just been born and was still struggling to stand up. And my poor little baby was still on his back, kicking away, stuck to his shell. After some discussion amongst the family, we made the decision to get the 4 chicks out, including the shell. A new home was quickly put together on the dining room table with food, water and heat lamp. Cole and I opened the incubator and made a mad dash for all 4 chicks and shell. Into the mail bin brooder they went and an inspection of the chick ensued. I had planned to try to cut the chick loose but wanted to make sure it wasn't a vein keeping it attached. Luckily it was just a feather stuck inside the shell and I promptly gave my new chick a little haircut and it was free! Since it had so far spent its entire life on its back, it did need a little help getting upright but it learned fast.

All 4 chicks are happily snoozing away and all have had a little water. One even ventured over to the food and I'm sure by this afternoon, they will be eating.

Their water dish is the top of a peanut butter jar full of marbles so they don't drown.

As my daughter put it this morning, "We love these little chicks so much!" And we do.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another one!

Our second chick hatched at 6 pm. This one had a full audience including me, my husband, both of my children and my mother-in-law who arrived shortly before the momentous event. Both chicks are currently snuggled up together in the incubator waiting on some friends.

I sent a picture of the first baby to the breeder that sold me the eggs and she confirmed that it looks like a Splash Sizzle just like it's mom. I have two Splash silkies and they are gorgeous. Splash is the coloring of white with splashes of blue. Sizzles are silkies with the frizzle gene so their feathers curl up. I will be on the moon if these are Sizzles. It's what we were hoping for!

Good night, little chicks! We just placed bets on whether or not we'll have chicks in the morning. We'll see! I think we will.

We have a chick!

Our first baby was born at 12:30 pm. We all watched, encouraged and cheered as the little bird emerged. Right now, he seems to be doing great, stumbling all around, falling on the other eggs, and trying to find out how to use his feet. Very cute!

Trying hard to get out of there. Keep trying, little chick! Don't give up!

Waiting and hoping.... and being very patient for 5-years old.

Here I come!

Whew! That's hard work.

And here I am! Welcome to the world, little chick.

Looking better as it dries. Little one is so tired but way too busy to nap.

I wish I could take him out of there but I can't. Opening the incubator at this point could kill the other chicks. So hurry up, eggs! Hatch and let the fun begin!

Pictures of the Pips!

As of this morning, we have three pips. The fourth egg of the first set maybe has something starting. When I lean down and talk to the incubator, someone is chirping back at me. And one of the eggs is rocking back and forth. It's trying to come out!

This is the egg that is doing all the rocking. Doesn't look like it's totally through the shell yet, but it's close!

Just getting started!

This is the original pip from yesterday afternoon. You can see the darkness of the chick through the shell. It's tough to get a clear picture through the top of the incubator though. This little chick's beak pokes through the hole and I can see him moving around in there. Come on, baby! We're waiting for you!

How wonderful it is to see this miracle happen before our eyes. Looking forward to a real, live chick emerging.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One is hatching!

Yea! Came home from the farm around 4pm and of course, I had to check the eggs. Since I've checked the eggs 100 times with no change, I truly wasn't expecting to see anything. But there it was... nature in action! One of my eggs had a little hole (a pip) and we could see it moving. And then... a little chirp! Wow! I'm constantly amazed by the intricacy of the world God created. How does that little chick know it's time to come out? How does it know what to do? It just knows. Amazing.

Thank you, Lord, for creating this beautiful, complicated, detailed, wonderful world. I feel so blessed to be able to witness so many wonders every day.

Pictures to come when it actually hatches! I'm so excited!

Waiting.... waiting...

I'd post a picture of my new babies hatching... except they haven't. No moving, no pipping, no chirping, no anything. I'm trying hard not to just sit and stare into the incubator, willing one of them to just pop on out and say "Hi, Mom!". My incubator is supposedly fool-proof. Hope I'm not the fool it missed! Maybe today we'll have a chick. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, the chicks I do have are growing quite nicely! My little silkies have the beginning of a crest showing and are filling out. They are 3 weeks old tomorrow.

Their little feet are getting feathers and they seem perfectly happy. They do not act like crazy chickens when I come up to the cage. The Marans and Ameraucanas, on the other hand, all run and smash into a corner whenever I come around. It's starting to hurt my feelings. They even try to squeeze through the cage.

They are beautiful chicks and have lovely feathering. I just hope they calm down a little. No mom likes it when their children run scared from them. And I promise I haven't hurt them!

Run!!! She's here!!!!

I miss my silkies that are out on the farm. The weather has been so cold and windy. Where is Spring??? Temps should not be in the 30's during the day when it's the middle of February. I long for a lovely, warm 55 degree day with no wind. The sun is shining today and it might actually get up to the high 40's. Sounds like a warm front, doesn't it?? Maybe I can go out and let the silkies run around for awhile. It's the "getting them back in the coop" part that is hard. Those little buggers are fast!!!

Update to come if anything happens in the incubator!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Waiting on a Pip

The eggs are in Lockdown! For the inexperienced hatcher, Lockdown is the last three days of the hatch. The difficult time when you are not allowed to open the incubator or in any way, mess with the eggs. The little eggs are off of the egg turner, humidity has been raised, vent is open.... I think I've done everything I'm supposed to do. Now the waiting begins.

There are 12 little eggs in there waiting to be born. Four eggs are from the original shipment and will be sizzles and frizzles (curly haired silkies!). The other eight eggs are from the second shipment and are frizzled cochins. Two of the eggs were questionable at the last candling... and that's assuming we knew what we were doing... which we didn't. It's anyone's guess how many will actually hatch!

Luckily the incubator has worked like a dream and is basically novice-proof. Once I finally got it assembled, it's been so easy. Plus it has a clear top so we can all see what's happening in there! We should start to hear some pipping in there any time. When an eggs starts pipping, you should start to see the chick trying to break through the egg shell. All viable eggs should be hatched in the next 4 days. My chicken friends say you can leave the chicks in there for up to 2 days while you wait for the other eggs to hatch. The baby chicks basically ingest the yolk prior to hatching and they can live on that. It's all so strange!

I've been trying hard today to not just sit and stare at the incubator. Luckily the 13 chicks in the garage are a good distraction! Everyone says that the chicks you hatch will always consider you their Mama. And who doesn't dream of being the real Mom of a chicken!!!????

So far, no pips. But anytime!!!!!! In the meantime, it's my husband's birthday and we're having a salsa party. Life calls!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow day!!!

The snow came hard and fast yesterday afternoon and continued late into the night. Snow of any kind is unusual in South Carolina and this time, we ended up with 5 inches of beautiful, white fluffy snow! The perfect kind of snow... the snow that makes huge snowballs, lovely snow angels, and is great for sledding. Watching the snow fall over the lake was mesmerizing. The family watched the Opening Cermonies of the Winter Olympics and then headed off to bed, dreaming off all the fun to be had in the morning.

Morning came bright and beautiful. The children ran to the window to make sure that, Yes! The snow is still there! A hearty breakfast and bundling up in layers ensued and then we all piled into the car and made the icy trek out to the farm. Our neighborhood was twinkling with its dress of snow.

Lake Greenwood after the snow

Our Lakehouse

Trying to get out of the neighborhood

The roads required lots of concentration but we finally arrived at the Farm. The view took our breath away.

Seems like every time we come out here, we fall a little more in love with this place.

A winter's sky and a winter wonderland

The children are ready to go!

Colin to Annaliese: Let's make Snow Angels!!

The chicks weathered the snow just beautifully. I tried to take a few of them out into the snow, but they told me quite emphatically that they're weren't interested in leaving their warm, little house.

The rest of the animals just wanted me to feed them. They seemed oblivious to the beauty surrounding them.

The babies are getting so big!

Here come the donkeys!

Chores done. Now time for some fun! The hills are steep and big at Sugar Hill which makes for great sledding. Unfortunately we didn't have a sled so we used a few air mattresses. Whatever works! Our neighbors joined us with their sled and their kids.

The snow started to melt and everyone was shivering. Time to head home for lunch and hot cocoa. What a great day!

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