Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nine + one

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.


Negerigeletschtempoit said...

Oh, Miriam, you made me remember one similar situation we had. This little chick went through the same, having broken a bit of the egg shell and nothing else. I did the same, carefully, oh so carefully. It made me nervous.

And she (it was a girl) also had bad legs. So, as she grew to be stronger, I used to lay her on her back on my lap, and exercise both little legs together, up and down, up and down.

It worked and her legs turned out perfect. She lived to be an old hen and died of old age.

Miriam said...

What a lovely story! It gives us hope. Our little one's legs seem to be working fine now, and all but one toe is pointing in the right direction. We followed Gail Storey's advice and taped the wonky toe with a bit of band-aid - apparently if you do it within the first 2-3 days the bones haven't all hardened yet, and it can do the trick. We're still not sure about its wing - it seems not quite right, but in every other respect it's a spunky, feisty, pooping little chickie!

Paula said...

Magic. The little bit of video is magic.

I'm so glad you guys got ten!! So much better than your first guess. And you did it with a power failure, so serious kudos to you.

As soon as you can afford it, get a generator. You may never need it again, but it's cheep insurance.


Miriam said...

"Cheep insurance"...very funny, Paula! And we have been thinking about it, largely because of the no-power-no-water issue. Do you know anything about them? Any advice for us?

Doc said...

They are delightful, thanks for posting the video.

farmhousewife said...

I'd say you did very well for your first time incubating chicks! That's a smashing success rate, considering all the adversaries!


Negerigeletschtempoit said...

It's me again, my friend. I read the comment from Paula, regarding the generator, and your question for an advice about them.

Well, we used to have an old generator at the house. It was good but would not run the water pump. And that is bad, isn't it?

We bought a new one two years ago (after we had a nasty freezing rain). I just asked Hubby to give me the technical specifications of our new machine, which is fantastic.

It runs for about 6 to 8 hours with a full tank of gas.

It powers the whole house (except the electric water heater that we turn off at the power panel !!).

It runs the water pump!

The typical well pump will take 2000 watts to get started.

Our generator is a Model TG 7000 with 6.200 watts - 120/240 volts - 13 horse power - Honda engine. And Hubby bought it through the net, at "Northern Tools"

It all depends on what you will need the generator to run. It can either run the house (without water heater!!), OR it can run items separately such as the pump, stove or anything of the sort, through outlets available on the generator itself - 2 x 220volts and 2 x 110 volts.

Would it give you a start on choosing one?

If we can be of any assistance, fell free to write to us at (

Toni@BackyardFeast said...

So glad to have found another "homesteading" blogger in the Valley! We just got some Buff Orp and Australorp chicks and I'm just loving them. In a panic about the storm that hit, we rushed out for a generator to keep the chicks' heat lamp going(we don't even have a woodstove, so we knew SOME back up power was due). In the end we only lost a minute; we weren't hit as hard in Cow Bay. Kudos on your resourcefulness and the hatch!

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