Yesterday was a crazy day. Kim and I both had big performances last night, in separate concerts. We had pre-concert dinner party plans, and snow to deal with, and our absent neighbours' chickens, geese and cat to look in on. And through the entire day, the ongoing drama of the hatching/not hatching chicks.
The dust has settled, and here's the tally: the concerts were a success. The snow is melting. And we have ten successfully hatched chicks: nine Buff Orpingtons and one Australorp. The remaining eggs in the incubator are quiet - no pips, no peeping. We'll wait until tomorrow morning, just in case, but we're pretty much resigned that these ten lovely chicks are it, out of the 25 we had hoped would hatch.
This little one - the last one - almost didn't make it. It pipped about 10 am on Friday, and by the time I got home from the concert last night, it hadn't made any progress beyond that initial break in the shell. The chick's beak and some lusty peeps were coming from the small hole, but with no progress in 36 hours, I knew it couldn't last much longer. So I took a deep breath and broke it out of its shell.
I went very slowly and carefully, but there were no problems: no adhesions of the membrane, no bleeding. I broke away about 2/3 of the shell, then put the whole thing back in the incubator and watched over the next few minutes while the chick quickly kicked away the rest. If a chick can't make its way out of the shell it's usually a sign of a significant underlying problem, so I wasn't sure if I had done the right thing - especially because the chick seemed to have badly bent feet and one wing that didn't seem quite right. But now we're thinking it might have just needed a bit more time than its siblings to uncramp from being in its shell for so long, because this morning its feet seem pretty much normal. We're still not sure about its wing, but if there's one thing we're learning from this experience, it's patience. So we'll give it more time.
Kim is happy about having managed to save ten, given the power outage, but sad there weren't more Australorps - she was really looking forward to adding to our little flock of three. For the last week she has been collecting eggs for a customer looking for three dozen fertile eggs for hatching (which is a pretty good proposition, since eggs for hatching fetch about four times as much as eggs for eating), but after that I think she'll power up the incubator again and have another go. And in the meantime we have all the joys of a new channel on Chicken TV.