Jack

Jack

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wow!

Chickam today had 16,300 viewers for a bit there! Chat was BUSY. Seems everybody loves it though, so it makes us happy to share the chicks. Right now the cam has been transferred to the brooder box.

I've gotten only spotty sleep for the last three days though, so hopefully tonight will be different.

But those chicks are GORGEOUS! I can't believe how nice they are.

We ended up with a total of 12 chicks: 2 Porcelain Belgian d'Uccles, 1 Black Mottled Belgian d'Uccle, 2 Silkies, one a Cuckoo and the other Black, 2 Salmon Faverolles and 5 Giant Cochins--1 Blue, 2 Lemon Blue and 2 Golden Laced.

All are very energetic, healthy and gorgeous birds, except for one, and Lemon Blue Giant Cochin with a twisted leg. It was so bad that her foot was completely upside down. I was able to splint her foot into place, not ideal but better than it was. She's one I had to peel out of her egg as she was stuck, and she's small compared to her sisters.

Friday, February 26, 2010

And KEEP Going!

Two more have hatched, a Golden Laced Giant Cochin and a Black Silkie. More eggs are wobbling and rocking as the chicks inside rotate into hatching position.

My broody blue Silkie hen, Blue, I brought in to mother the chicks...she flipped out, hates being in the house and EXTRA HATES being right next to Nadine.

So I brought in Boots, who although she isn't broody, IS a Cochin and Cochins will happily try to hatch rocks. She hung out with the chicks a bit, but her reaction was more in the form of 'favorite aunt' than 'mom'. Hmmm...I'll try Moet next, our part Cochin who was momma last year. If SHE doesn't work out, it'll just be us and the chicks!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

...GO!

Chicks are hatching! One hatched last night, a Porcelain Belgian d'Uccle. Today she was joined by a Black Mottled Belgian d'Uccle and a Lemon Blue Giant Cochin. All are doing well, considering that they are early--the actual hatch should be at noon tomorrow, Friday the 26th. Two other eggs have pipped and should hatch late tonight or early tomorrow.

Right now I'm making the brooder box while J. fixes his computer--it was overheating and needed a new heat sink. So the webcam is down for now, but when it returns you can watch & hear the hatch here:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/chickam2008

So far we've only got hatching in the forced air incubator, nothing in the still air one. Time will tell!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Mom..."

"...Bug pecked me on the mouth." (Bug being her favorite chicken)

*sigh*

"Ok, let me see." She offers me her upturned face. I see nothing. "Where did she peck you?" I ask her.
"On my mouth."
"Ok, but where?
In answer, she opens her mouth.
I'm stunned. "IN your mouth?!"
She nods.
*sigh again* "Point to where she got you." I figure it's going to be a tooth, something in the front. I still can't see anything.
She points WAY inside her mouth, up behind her upper teeth, to her hard palate!
There is a *tiny* amount of blood, but nothing major. OK, I tell her, go wash out your mouth really well.
"How did she manage to peck you way up THERE?" I ask as she goes trotting off.
"I dunno!" She tosses back over her shoulder.
Uh-huh...'I dunno.'  Suuure.  "Don't put her head in your mouth again, next time it may be something you'll miss!" I call after her.
"OK!"

Ah, suburban thrills.

Ready, Set,...

Tonight the eggs in the incubators got their last turn. We've left them numbered side up so people watching on the webcam can pick out & cheer on their favorite egg. We also added water for the last time. Most of the eggs were REALLY stubborn about how I wanted them to sit vs. how THEY wanted to sit--a good sign, the weight shifting inside means a chick. We still have yet to find a brooder box. I'm really going to have to hunt one down tomorrow as I need time to cut the window in the side, place the hardware cloth 'window' in it and otherwise get it ready for cute lil' balls o' fluff.

Unexpectedly, Moxie, one of the chicks from last year's May hatch, has gone broody! I don't know if she would be a wise choice for mama, since she is so young (only 9 months old) and inexperienced, and being at the lower rungs of the pecking order doesn't have much clout with the flock. Blue is still broody, but she is so tiny that there is no way she'd be able to handle more than 6 or so babies, and she is in the lower third of the pecking order. I'd really prefer that one of the bigger and more established hens such as Moet or Boots would take on the mama job.

The caged birds are VERY excited, they know what the incubators mean and that hatch day is almost here! Once chicks start peeping they'll be yelling their heads off to let us know.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Countdown, T-minus 14 Days And Counting!

Seven more days to the hatch! Tonight I candled all 61 eggs. I took out 11 clear eggs that showed no development at all. 7 Silkies, 2 d'Uccles, 1 Salmon Favorelle and 1 Cochin. I opened the eggs to check them, only found three that were infertile (all Silkies), the rest were fertile eggs. Several had been badly scrambled, probably by the postal service, so they never had a chance. The clear eggs were pretty much divided evenly between the two incubators, so I don't see anything wrong there. I also noted live babies in each incubator, so they are doing their job!

So we have 50 eggs left, I saw maybe 12 'for sure' live chicks squirming around--they HATE the bright flashlight I used to candle them. I won't candle again since there is only a week to go. Now we have to find a big cardboard box for a brooder box and get it ready!

One of our hens, a little tiny Silkie named Blue, is currently broody and may be recruited as Broody Mama for this batch. Last year it was Moet, she is an excellent momma but isn't broody right now. We'll see!

Gotta get the webcam stuff and get IT running, too! Chickam is looming on the horizon...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

THIS Guy...

...this little bugger, right here:


Is our personal Sharpshin hawk, it seems. He's been hanging around for more than a year now, and while he MOSTLY does his actual sparrow killing elsewhere, he delights in zooming through the yard when the chickens aren't looking and sending them into a panic. They then get all pissed off and cackle and bark at him for 20 minutes. Even when we go out and try to shoo him away, he'll sit on the power lines right over our heads, favor us with a brief, dismissive glance and then shake out his tail and start preening.

Cheeky little blase bugger! It's a good thing he's so cute and that we love birds of prey...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fun...

A rather exotic and eccentric tag off the kids' new dinosaur:



It's just SO over-the-top!

And sometimes the kid sets up little playtime scenes with her toys and we run across them later. Last time was a dinosaur/Disney Princess tea party. This time it's Halo's own Master Chief, who, with or without a cork tree, likes to sit just quietly, smelling the flowers*...



*Bonus points if you get the reference!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Is It Halloween Yet?

Hehe...tonight we got a SERIOUSLY WICKED idea for our Halloweencam this year. The kid has agreed to be the star. I've been talking to her about the importance of posing the right way and being very still until the time comes. She's so excited she's about to pop. Between her and her dad, I expect to have at LEAST one trick-or-treater pee themselves this year. Last year J. did such a good job that the next morning there was a trail of trampled candy leading from our door...down the driveway...and down the sidewalk. Both directions.

Now I just have to get busy building the new graveyard headstones and learning the necessary makeup, as I am mostly Hero Support on Halloween.

A clue?

Whatever you do, DON'T BLINK!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chickam Candidates Are Started!

Chickam is on the way!

The two incubators are up & running and rule in solitary splendor on my kitchen island...



...with all their assorted temperature probes & hygrometers. Inside they hold a total of 61 eggs, half in each unit. There are 16 Giant Cochin eggs (6 Golden Laced, 5 Blue and 5 Lemon-Blue), 17 Silkie eggs (3 each Cuckoo, Black, Buff, White and Splash, 2 Blue Splash), 15 Belgian d'Uccle (4 Self Blue, 5 Porcelain and 3 each Black Mottled and MilleFleur) and 13 Salmon Favorelle eggs.





We decided to do something a little different this year, and are not hatching any of our own chickens' eggs. Instead, all of the eggs were ordered online and were shipped via the USPS from the eastern U.S., so the hatch rate automatically drops--shipped eggs are vulnerable to possible rough handling by USPS workers. But all of the eggs were securely wrapped and came through beautifully, and look to be of outstanding quality. Several of the breeds are on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy list of breeds in danger of being lost forever. Salmon Favorelles are listed as 'Critical', and Cochins are on the 'Watch' list. So by buying their eggs and hatching them we are both increasing demand for the breed and creating more of them.

The eggs are numbered in order to keep track online of which one(s) are hatching, and the X on one side and O on the other are registration marks for us, so we can tell which ones we've turned. The eggs need to be turned by hand 3 times a day, every day for 21 days.

There IS one thing...I've never owned Salmon Favorelles before but I've wanted them for a long time--I'm a sucker for fluffy-faced chickens. However, I'm not sure if this hen is representative of the breed--!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQnvDw-0uxM

I LOVE her.
At any rate, hatch day and the Chickam start date is Friday, February 26th!