Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hatch A Is Complete And Set!

This morning I added the final bunch of eggs, there are 43 in there right now!

When it comes to daddys, it could be any of the 7 roos, they are all being very diligent in their duties. There are two bantam roos--Bloop the MilleFleur Belgian d'Uccle and Mushroom the bantam Cochin. Big roos are: Weedcat, splash Giant Cochin, Cam, Giant Cochin/Ameraucaunas, Frosty and Cowbell, Ameraucaunas mix and Buzzard, Ameraucaunas/MilleFleur Belgian d'Uccle mix (I don't know how Bloop managed to climb Rose, a big hen, and father a child...but I salute him).

As for moms, the only eggs I was able to be sure of were 1 from Alice, Barred Rock, 1 from Sophie, Bantam Sicilian Buttercup/Cochin mix, 1 from Pie, Buff Brahma/Giant Cochin/Ameraucaunas mix and 1 from Olive, bantam Cochin. The green eggs are from Ameraucaunas hens and the other tiny eggs and from bantam hens...beyond that, who knows!

There are no eggs on the bottom of the ReptiPro because I'd have to raise the temps too high to get enough heat down there, eggs on the top shelf would get too hot and die. In one week I'll candle these guys and remove any that have not started to develop embryos, then add the eggs for Hatch B. As incubation progresses from there I'll candle the eggs again on March 14th and cull any non-developing eggs.

Now I get to hand-turn all these eggs 5 times a day for the next three weeks, haha.  Hatch A should hatch on March 20th & 21st.  Once the culls are out there will be a *bit* more room in there.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Chickening Has Begun!

The first batch of hatching eggs is cookin' along in the ReptiPro!

This is 17 eggs--bantam eggs from our flock and the Polish mix eggs from the package I got the other day.  The rest of the eggs I'll set tomorrow morning for a total of 43 eggs.  I've decided to stagger the first hatch (there will be two if all goes well) so that the hatching is spread over two days, Friday March 20th and Saturday March 21st.  Admitedly this is an experiment, hopefully it'll work out and chicks will hatch over both days, giving more people a chance to see an actual chick hatching.  I'm trying to hatch the bantams and more delicate Polish birds first to give them a bit of a head start on the standard size chicks...some of which may well be Giant Cochin/Brahma mix gigantobeasts.

This will be Hatch A, due to hatch on March 20th & 21st.  I'll add more eggs for Hatch B in 7 days, when I candle the Hatch A eggs and cull any duds.  Hatch B will get candled 7-10 days after they are set to remove any undeveloped eggs from that batch. Hatch B should hatch March 27th & 28th if everything goes to plan.  All of the chicks should get along in one big brooder box just fine.

What you're looking at in this picture is the inside of our ReptiPro cabinet-type incubator--ReptiPros were originally made for herpetologists, then the chicken crowd came along and discovered that it worked great for bird eggs, too!  I have a friend who hatches emu eggs in one of these--although she can't get more than a few in there at once.

The shot glass in the bottom of the incubator provides moisture (chicken eggs need 50% humidity for the first 18 days of incubation, 65% for the final three days).  I keep two hygrometers in there, one dial type and the other the digital one on the top shelf.  The white cord on the left is a probe thermometer, the end is stuck into the child's toy (a water weasel), that gold thing on the left.  The water weasel simulates an egg, the probe thermometer gives you a reading of what the temp is inside of an egg, making for a better hatch! 

The eggs are numbered so that everyone can keep track of and cheer on their favorite once hatching begins.  They are also marked with an 'X' on one side and an 'O' on the other to help me keep track of which ones I've turned--since there is no automatic turner for this unit, I must hand-turn the eggs 5 times a day.  When I open the door of the unit to turn eggs, it also allows CO2 out and fresh O2 in.

The one drawback to the ReptiPro is that there is a fan running 24/7 that the chicks can hear inside the egg, so the minute they hatch they all stumble over to the stupid fan like it's their long-lost mama.

Makes for a very confusing first few hours of life, poor things!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hatching Eggs Have Arrived!

We're gearing up for our annual Chickam web broadcast!

Chickam is something we've been doing every year since 2008 and has become immensely popular worldwide.  It will show baby chicks hatching, then the webcam will stay on them and we will broadcast the next 8 weeks of their lives 24/7, with sound.  Since we keep the brooder box in our dining room, this also means that everyone will hear US as well, but we've learned to try and keep pretty quiet during Chickam.  Generally we try to hatch some of our own eggs, plus get other eggs either online or from local breeders when we find some interesting birds that we want to add to our flock.

So today I got a box 'o eggs in the mail!

All of the markings on the box are because the US postal Service delights--delights, I tell you--in taking boxes of hatching eggs and doing things like running them through an x-ray machine, playing kickball with the boxes or otherwise doing their level best to assure you a zero hatch rate.  So people selling hatching eggs online must armor them like they are going into battle.

When I got them unwrapped, here's what greeted me!

The seller had packed the eggs amazingly well and only two got cracked.  This shipment ended up being 25 eggs of assorted hybrids:

Frizzled Ameraucana/Silkie Hybrid ~ Sizzles (the blue/green ones): ~Hybrid chicks from Frizzled Ameraucna Hens & Silkie Rooster ~
Easter Egger/Silkie Hybrid (also some of the green ones) : ~Hybrid chicks from Easter Egger & Olive Egger Hens & Silkie Rooster ~
Polish/Silkie Hybrid (White eggs on the right): ~Hybrid chicks from Polish Hens Frizzled & Smooth Bearded and Non-Bearded Bantam & Silkie Rooster ~
Salmon Faverolle/Silkie Hybrid: ~Hybrid chicks from Salmon Faverolle Hens & Silkie Rooster ~

Between these eggs and our own, we should have some really interesting and hilarious-looking chicks this year!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fun, Now With More Ice!

OK, maybe not so fun.  I really don't dig driving on the stuff.
But regardless, it was time to hoof it down to my pain management doc for another knee injection, so off I go.

Despite the slick roads, the drive was lovely as always.

Plus, the snow made this plaque look cool!

Eventually I got past the snowline.  I always like to try and stop and new and interesting places on highway 395, there are so many.  This time it was the Thien Vien Chan Nguyen Buddhist Temple in Adelanto.  We've watched this place being built for years, and have been waiting to visit it.

It's a bit unnerving to see it at first, it's this huge place rising out of the desert with not much around it.

It was just after the new year celebration, so there were lots of decorations, flowers and offerings.

The marble carvings were stunning, and the attention to detail was amazing.

The plaques were mostly in Vietnamese, with a bit of English.  It left me wishing I knew more about what I was looking at, I'm sure the history behind the sculptures is fascinating.
'...and the experienced ones.'  I love this.

This statue was HUGE.

The shrine at the foot of the statue.

Gorgeous carved marble plates were on all four sides of the base.

When you stand with your back to the huge statue, you face a long avenue flanked by more statues.

This guy looked like a badass you wouldn't want to mess with.

This guy, either.

Shrines were everywhere.  Most held incense, water, little mints and oranges.

Everything was beautifully done

Even something so simple as a lamp post was ornate.

It was marvelously quiet and serene.

I absolutely fell in love with this one, I could have sat and looked at it for hours.

On the steps leading up to the temple.  The temple had amazing stained glass windows, which sadly did not photograph well.

I peeked inside the temple, which was open, but deserted.  I wasn't sure of what was allowed and didn't want to disrespect the place so I did not enter...but it was gorgeous!

I highly recommend stopping here if you are in the area.  There was much more to the grounds that I didn't have time to explore.

After seeing the doc the next morning, I hit the road back home, stopping at one of our traditional stops, Brady's Mobil station in Pearsonville.  Brady's is famous for having one of the few remaining neon 'flying horse' signs, at night the place is glorious.  Also glorious is the touristy crap they sell inside!

Clap friends!  Although I wouldn't call someone who shared that a friend, especially.

I can't see the phrase 'land shark' without hearing it said in Chevy Chase's voice. "Candygram!"

One of the motels on the road has a cool wind sculptures, although they have sensibly tied it down during the windy season.

Another traditional stop, Manzanar.

The view people entering Manzanar had.

They'd added some barracks since I'd been there last.  When Manazanar closed, the barracks had been sold off.  They were able to find a couple, still intact, and reinstalled them, outfitting them inside with what they would have looked like in the 1940's.

Went back and paid my respects at the cemetery.

The recent windstorms had blown away much of the offerings people had left, but some origami was still left.

As I left I spied a small sign...

What?!  OK, this I gotta see!

Sadly, there was nothing but part of a foundation there and another sign.  Although I will say it is the first historical chicken ranch I've ever seen.

Oh well, time to go anyway.
I thought the juxtaposition of the Blue Star highway sign honoring vets with the Manzanar guard tower was striking. 

At least they added a small plaque to the bottom acknowledging the Japanese Americans.

Next was the Eastern California Museum in Independence.

It's a very cool little museum, absolutely stuffed to the gills with interesting stuff, including this huge skull!

Next to this was a mechanical diorama from the 1930's that to it's credit still worked, although it was ungodly noisy.  It had bighorn sheep prancing about and scrolling sheep facts.  At the end was this dire message:

Outside was a wonderland of old farm machines, autos, trucks, etc.

A little western town display.

The world's tiredest-looking Ford.

Farther up the road is a fun, 3D sign advertising Mammoth.

And at one of the rest stops is one of the cleverest public service ads I've seen in a long while.

The last stop was at the grave of the unknown prospector, at the highway 120 cutoff for Mono Mills.  I don't think many people even realize it's here, it's so well-hidden.

After this it was time to beat feet for home.