Thursday, April 18, 2013


We've started the final three days! The brooder box is ready, as is the styrofoam incubator we'll have standing by as a chick-dryer-outer if we need it.

The eggs on the very bottom of the incubator are the current hatch. The eggs on the upper shelves are the next hatch, staggered for two weeks after this one.

The concentric rings are where I marked the progress of the air cells during incubation to make sure the eggs were on track. Usually I'd only do it 3-4 times, but with the new incubator I wanted to be extra cautious. The shot glass holds water to keep the humidity correct, and the little thing on the right is a hygrometer. The upper shelves have their own thermometer/hygrometer setup.

We've tested the cam and everything is as ready as it's going to get! When I did the final candling yesterday, I saw lively, squirmy chicks in all 15 of the eggs except two--these two may be late quitters, or merely fashionably late--I'm leaving them in the incubator to give them every chance. This morning one of the eggs peeped at my husband when he spoke to them, and wiggled energetically for me when I talked to them.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Round Two...

Set another 14 eggs in the incubator, we'll have a staggered hatch this year. These should hatch 2 weeks after the first group due April 20th--this group, if they develop, are due May 4th.

All of these should have Weedcat, our splash Giant Cochin roo, as a daddy. In a week when I candle this group I'll be able to tell if anything is happening or not!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ten Days To Go!

We're on schedule for our annual Chickam live web broadcast of our baby chick hatch set for Saturday, April 20th! Just in case, we suggest checking the UStream Chickam page starting two days before that (April 18th) in case the little stinkers are early, which has happened in the past. It'll be here--if you tune in and see eggs, that means the hatch is starting! http://www.ustream.tv/channel/chickam2008
We started with 40 eggs, and had 15 develop into healthy embryos!

We got 15 eggs from a local family, the breeds include light Brahmas, Golden Polish, Leghorn and Sicillian Buttercups, some will be mixes. Twelve of those eggs developed along with three eggs from our Belgian d'Uccle chickens. We had set some of our large breed eggs, but due to the fact that I hadn't foreseen hugely winterized fluffy butts on both our roo and the girls...none of those eggs developed and turned out not to be fertile!

So last week our Giant Cochin roo and all the big girls each got a VERY undignified butt feather trim. They were properly outraged at me trimming their nether regions but at least now, when I do an egg breakout all or nearly all of the large breed eggs are fertile, so it worked! I plan on setting a few large breed eggs in the incubator this Saturday, if they work out they should hatch two weeks after the first group, around May 4.

We also currently have a total of three broody hens, one of which may be elected to be mama for the Chickam chicks. One of the broodies is our gray Giant Cochin hen Yoya, here showing off how fierce and fluffy she can be...
...the other two are tiny but fierce bantam Belgian d'Uccles, just fate having a chuckle at our expense, I'll wager. We'll see if any of these ladies works out!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Broody Hen Detente

So now we have three broody hens.

Wiggles the gray mottled Belgian d'Uccle bantam is still going strong and really getting in to it. Yoya the gray Giant Cochin has decided to stick with it (for now) and Colonel, another chick from last year, has decided to brood. Colonel is one of the MilleFleur d'Uccle bantams.

Yesterday evening Yoya and Colonel apparantly teamed up to oust poor tiny Wiggles from her eggs, which PISSED HER OFF. I was out there passing out dandelion greens when Wiggles ran up to me, clucking rapid-fire, grabbing my pant leg and pulling me towards the coop.

OK, gotta go see what tiny angry hen wants. I walk in that direction and she sprints ahead of me, growling and clucking all the way, stopping in front of HER nest box and staring in.

Uh oh. I check it and find Yoya and Colonel.  I reach in to pet them, scritch their heads a bit...

But I take too long to suit Hitler-in-a-hen. Outraged pacing, extra-large fluffing up and full-on loud, *angry* bucawking starts at my feet--clearly this is, 'Mom, they took my nest. No fair! Make 'em give it baaack, NOW!' The Belgian Time Bomb is about to reach DEFCON 1.

Well, those hens ain't moving and Wiggles is clearly ramping up to bring the hammer down for a bantam Shock-And-Awe campaign. Time to head this off.

I end up taking one of the eggs from under Yoya and setting it in the next nest box over and showing it to Wiggles...

She stares into the new nest box for a minute, then reluctantly decides that this is an acceptable compromise and slowly heads in to sit on it.

All is quiet again, for now...