Jack

Jack

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stress...

My father-in-law is in the hospital, again. This time he's in ICU, unresponsive, after having been taken in because of high ammonia levels in his blood. So his kidneys/liver are failing...also, they suspect he suffered a stroke.

He was prepared after last month's hospital stay, and his living will, DNR and other papers are all set up and signed. I'm hoping I can sneak N. in to see him, as I think her talking to him may do him some good...you never know.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

So Far...

Four chicks! I'm actually kinda surprised at this, since I had candled the Polish eggs and they were universally duds. I'm going to have to convince my roos boys that those are GIRLS. Same with the Silkie hens though, poor babies.

So far we have 2 Bear/Phoenix chicks, 1 Skitters/Phoenix chick, and 1 blonde Baby(?)/Scott chick. The Bear and Skitters babies show the Americaunas chipmunk stripe markings, and the Skitters baby also has nice feathered feet. Both of the Bear chicks had to be helped from their eggs a bit, a combination of HUGE chick and tough egg membrane--Bear lays VERY strong eggs! Come to think of it, we had to assist Bear during HER hatching, as well, she was so big.

They are all quite cute and fluffy, of course. :)

Also, it is 3:30AM and I am quite, quite, quite tired after midwifing baby chicks all day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

HATCHING HAS BEGUN!

Wow, two days early! So far we have one egg pipping and peeping, another is peeping and rocking back and forth. There are 12 eggs in the incubators, links to the cam are here, click and scroll to the bottom of the page for the links:

http://jackshenhouse.com/VSChickLinksCHICKAM.htm

The webcam is giving us some trouble and isn't up yet, but it will be soon!

The Countdown...

...is on! I gave the eggs in the incubator their final turn last night, topped off the water, culled the undeveloped eggs and shifted the remaining 12 eggs to one incubator--the one with the forced air fan. All of the eggs are dark green and too dark to candle except two--a light shelled egg and a light brown egg, both with definitely a chick inside.

Meanwhile, the 5 remaining eggs out under the hens are too dark to candle--except one, which looks to have a chick inside but is also horribly cracked. I chose to leave it be under the hens to give it a chance. Two eggs are under Moet, a buff Frizzle Cochin who has raised chicks before and three are under Bear, our Easter Egger Head Hen. Moet got the cracked one since she is smaller, lighter and more gentle than Bear. When hatch day comes, we'll either put all of the eggs under one hen or leave them be with Moet & Bear--but the mama(s) & eggs will be transferred to a brooder box in the house for the hatching. I'm hoping the hen's eggs hatch, as Moet REALLY screeched at me and pecked me HARD (which she never does) when I checked under her tonight. Hopefully that's a good sign that she knows they are viable.

If any of the incubator eggs hatch, they will be added to the mama hen's chicks, since hens can't count. The way to do it safely is to slip them under her at night, while removing the unhatched eggs at the same time.

Hatch day is in two days, on Sunday. By tomorrow afternoon we should be seeing eggs rock and hearing chicks peep if anything is going to happen. When that occurs, the webcam will start!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Next...?

Three weeks ago, the shower drain backed up and apparently the house wanted nothing more than for J. to have to crawl under it and ram a pipe snake through it's innards. Which he did.

So the following weekend, the garbage disposer failed in a really stinky, gross way. OK, J. changed it out...

LAST weekend, the hot water heater failed and started barfing water all over the kitchen floor (yay for interior hot water heaters!). OK, J. changed IT out.

The expense is growing exponentially. It seems the house is waging a watery apocalyptic appliance Jihad against us.

I shudder to think what THIS weekend holds...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mission San Diego de Alcala--The Lego Version!

So here is N.'s big California mission project, which she decided to build entirely of Legos.

The front and one side. The pigs have gotten into the garden, again!


The back & side, showing the courtyard...


Close up of the courtyard...


This was a fun project--with the added bonus of being able to take it apart and have Legos to play with afterward.

Originally she wanted to place dinosaurs, robots and skeletons amongst the peaceful mission folk and their animals. But I told her that for school it has to be authentic--but once we bring it home, she can engage in all the dino-robo-skeletor epic mission-demolishing battles she wants.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wow, What A Ride!

Last night we had a 4.7 hit about 16 miles away from us...close and shallow enough for us to get some REALLY good action out of it.

I now know what it feels like to have your house BOUNCE. Three times. While you are standing in it. The quake was close enough for us to experience all of the subtleties of an earthquake: The sound of it approaching--something like wind rushing through tall grass, the initial rumbling and rolling, the sudden intensifying of the jolting that transforms it from 'oh hey, an earthquake' to 'HEY, an earthquake!', the undulation of walls, floors and furniture, and the Big Finish: BANG, BANG, BANG! Ungodly noisy, it was. All of my windows clattered on that one. And then the slow, continued rolling and shaking as it slowly abated, over at least 30 seconds long.

Anyway, it was good practice for us and the kid, who at first didn't notice it at all until we called her over into the doorway. Our house now sports a few new cracks, and a couple of the old ones have gotten bigger. Plus the phones are down, both landline and cell. Nadine the crow did NOT like it at all, and cawed at us like WE did it. Maggie, one of our hens who is indoors right now recovering from an illness, ran and hid under my desk.

We did feel two aftershocks soon afterwards, but nothing since. Turns out the strength of the quake radiated nicely in our direction and it was a shallow one, which also lends itself to being felt in every scrumptious detail.

At least the incubators didn't take a dive!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Fourth Grade California Mission Project!

...is to be Mission San Diego de Alcala, made from Legos!

Since we don't have enough white ones, we need to make a trip to the Lego store at Downtown Disney in Anaheim for supplies.

We still need to build the bell tower, the buttresses and the front facade, then it'll be done!

Sigh...

So we are now UP to 10 broody hens in the coop, and DOWN to 6 eggs under them. They cracked another egg this morning, I think due to fighting and shoving over who gets to set on them.

I'm thinking from now on of isolating a hen or two with all of the eggs, and letting them set in peace. I'm doubting that any of the current eggs under the hens will hatch due to all of this. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Two Tidbits This Week...

...from the kid.

First was the other night while we were watching TV. I was lucky enough to be walking by J. and saw his reaction to N.'s sudden question: "Mom, what is 'flirting'?"

I think I actually saw the white of his eyes all the way around his eye! Priceless.



The second one was when she and I were watching the shuttle astronauts getting geared up for the launch. As their helpers were getting them dressed and equipped, one of them placed an orange-stick-like object in a small pocket on the outside of the astronaut's suit upper arm area.

Her: "What's that?"
I start to explain that it may be a glow-stick, shark repellent or dye marker for use if they go into the water. "Tha--"
I get no farther.
She suddenly turns to me, face all lit up as a thought occurs to her and the space program just gets 1,000 times more wonderful in her eyes.
"Is that an OTTER POP?!"

I laughed and said no, I doubted it. But damned if it didn't sound like a great idea. Otter Pops in space!

I See Baby Chicks Starting!

Some of the eggs are clear--the Polish ones--but others have embryos starting, hurrah! And in BOTH incubators! Can the real culprit be as simple as 'too many eggs in the incubators'? And if it really DOES end up being a '12-20 at the MOST' deal for the incubators, why does Miller Manufacturing say you can place 46 eggs per incubator? The humidity & temps feel MUCH better, too.

Hmmm.... Now if we can only keep the eggs going and get them to hatch--!

As for the broody hens outside...we now have EIGHT hens that have gone broody, including Bear, our Head Hen. I think they've realized that we are leaving eggs for them to hatch and they're all trying to horn in on the action. Bear has succeeded in taking over one nest with three of the eggs, while four other hens are setting two to a nest and have the remaining 4 eggs split up between them. At least the paired off ladies are being nice enough to share an egg apiece. I do think that when hatch time comes, we'll either choose one hen (likely Bear) for mama and give her all of the eggs, or just go with two of the ones who have paired up. I hate to deprive the others of their eggs, but they have already broken three of the initial eggs we set under them by fighting over them, and I don't want to shift things around again just yet and have it start up again.

Two weeks to go!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Once More Into The Breach!

Into the incubators, actually. AND hens! Since we've got about 6 of the girls who have gone broody (the coop is a Terror Zone for the other chickens, who dash in, lay their eggs and LEAVE), I've set 5 eggs each under Moet, who has raised chicks before and is an excellent mama and Zevon/Splash--two sisters who are brooding together and get along well. Splash and Zevon have peacefully divided up their 5 eggs--Splash has three, Zevon has 2. Moet is a Frizzle buff Cochin, Zevon is a Frizzle Cochin mix and Splash is a nice large, plump bantam of mixed heritage. These eggs will be my test--if the hens can't hatch them either, I'll know it's not my incubators or me who is at fault. I know a lot of our girls are older, so it could be affecting the hatch--but then we've got a lot of young girls, too. It's a mystery...



In the two incubators, we've drastically cut the number of eggs and will have only 20 eggs in each one. Each set of eggs is numbered 1-20 and marked with an X on one side and an O on the other, in order to track which ones have been turned. They'll get turned at least three times a day. The new incubator has been upgraded with a forced-air fan to better circulate the air around the eggs, the old incubator has a new thermostat. I'm also going with leaving all the red ventilation plugs in on both incubators in hopes of raising the humidity, which has been a real bear to get and keep to where it is supposed to be.

We'll start the eggs at 6PM tonight, which should give us a hatch date of 5-23-09--the day before Memorial Day!