Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chick Pics So Far...

This afternoon we moved Popcorn and Tater Tot to the brooder box, where they are happily snuggled with their surrogate ocotomom and nibbling away at food.

'Popcorn' cute face...

Grumpy Popcorn...

And 'Tater Tot Hotdish'

Another egg, #25, pipped a few hours ago and is progressing nicely!

And today, the 14th, here she is! Meet 'Banjo'!

Banjo's foot feathers are truly epic.

'Strychnine' has been moved to the brooder box to join her siblings.

Group shots of the four we have so far...top to bottom, counterclockwise: Banjo, Popcorn, Strychnine and Tater Tot.

They luv snuggling their octomom!  And each other...

Lastly, one Dark Cornish egg hatched, #5.  This is 'Groot'!

Groot has lovely, interesting markings on her back...

No more eggs have pipped, and none of them are rocking or peeping...so we may be done at 5 chicks.  The rest of the eggs will be left in the incubator for several days to make sure.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Look, Fresh Chickens!

The hatch has begun, #15 popped out at at 4PM!  A tiny little black and white Belgian d'Uccle mix.  Cute and slimely all at the same time!

Head over here to watch the hatch, so far just one other egg has pipped, #17.


And Here We Go!

So I went out the the incubator & brooder box, getting final touches ready...

Little things, like making sure Club Flamingo is set, along with a cuddle buddy for the chicks that the kid donated...

And I did the final turn of the Lot B eggs, placing them down on the floor of the incubator to join the Lot A eggs, plus adding more water to bring up the humidity to 65%.

And damned if I didn't see our first pip, on #15!  It's hard to see, but it's on the upper right on the shell and looks like a little half circle.  The egg is rocking back and forth and being quite active.  No other pips as yet, but several other eggs have been moving!

#15 will probably hatch in about 6-8 hours...maybe a bit more, but those banties are quick little stinkers!  When any egg is close to hatch, we'll start the cam!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lockdown Day!

And yeah, even though with the ReptiPro incubator you don't actually do a lockdown (where you stop turning the eggs and do not open the incubator again until the hatch is done) on the eggs, day 18 of incubation will forever be 'lockdown day' to me.  With the ReptiPro you simply stop turning the eggs, but do open the incubator 5 times a day to let fresh air in.  So today was lockdown day for Lot A, the first group of eggs.  Lot B will join them tomorrow, meanwhile I'm still turning Lot B today.

We ended up with 13 embryos, 11 of our eggs and only 2 of the Dark Cornish that made it to this point.  To tell the truth, given the age and condition of the rest of the mail-order Dark Cornish eggs, if either of the chicks makes it and is healthy, it'll be a miracle.

But here they are!  Lot A has been moved down to the bottom of the incubator, where the humidity will be raised to 65%.  Banty eggs in front since I suspect those little stinkers will hatch first, probably even early.

Maybe even today... 
No pips or peeping yet, but some of the eggs are rocking when I talk to them!

My little homemade water weasel performed just fine and is still doing it's job...

As for the brooder box, it's been raining so non-soggy boxes were not to be found--but my husband found some fun raw materials for me to construct it out of...
It's a movie advertising display!

We don't want the glossy surface on the inside with the chicks, so here's the end product:

The brooder box will get the finishing touches of hay, heat lamp, food/water dishes, etc. today.  But we're ready!

I'm actually ahead of the banty eggs hatching FOR ONCE, HA!

I will update on the Chickam Twitter page when the hatch begins, and you can watch it on our UStream channel, here--if you tune in and see eggs, that means the hatch has begun!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Egg Candling Day!

Or night, to be more accurate.

Armed with my trusty LED desk lamp and a metal canning funnel turned upside-down over the thing, I was able to cup one hand around the eggs and use the other to gently rotate the egg until I could see how many potential chicks we have waiting in the wings.  The ReptiPro has been a darling, purring along and holding it's temperature and humidity beautifully.

I had one dozen Dark India Cornish eggs bought off ebay and shipped...and unfortunately, because of several different issues, will NOT be using this particular breeder again.  More on that later, but out of 12 eggs, I saw embryos in only 2, 6 were clear duds that never developed, and 4 others I was unsure of but gave the benefit of the doubt and returned to the incubator.  The 'unsure' ones I strongly suspect are duds with broken yolks, though.  We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Out of the 13 eggs from our hens, I saw embryos in 6, 6 I was unsure of (one may have quit, 5 others are too dark to candle positively but I think *do* have embryos), and 1 was a dud.

I will do a breakout on the 'dud' eggs to check for fertility, lack of freshness and other causes later on.

So right now we have 8 embryos for sure and 10 others that *might* have embryos!  I will candle again on day 17 (this Sunday) and remove any other eggs that have not progressed.  But I think I can safely say we will have about 13 chicks!

Now, back to the shipped eggs if you want to read the whole sad story...before I bid, I first contacted the seller weeks ahead of time and asked if he could ship the eggs within a certain date range so I could get them a few days before I planned on setting eggs.  No problem, he said.  So I went ahead and bid on one of his auctions and won it, sending him a message right away reminding him NOT to ship the eggs for another two weeks, as we had agreed.

A few days later (two weeks ahead of time), I was unpleasantly surprised to find a USPS box on my doorstep.  Not only that, but it was completely lacking any kind of 'Fragile' or 'Hatching Eggs, Do Not X-ray' stamp. Box kinda crunched on one end, but eggs packed well and no harm done.


OK, contacted the seller, said I can't use these eggs in two weeks (every chicken breeder knows Rule #1:  you NEVER set old eggs to hatch). He said, sorry, he got mixed up. He also said that marking the package 'Fragile Do Not X-ray' would have made it 'suspicious' and subject to being opened and inspected (what do I care?)...he said the eggs should be 'fine'.

OK...contacted him again and said nope, I'm not gonna set 2 week old eggs, his mistake, so he needs to send a replacement shipment.

He said OK, but MADE ME PAY HIM ANOTHER 25 CENTS for him to print out a new shipping label before he'd do so!

Criminy.  OK, done.  Eggs shipped and received, box still not marked as 'Fragile' or 'Do Not X-ray'. *sigh...* But again, eggs packed well and seem in good condition.

Meanwhile my egg set day arrives and the new eggs and some of mine are started in the incubator, well and good.  I decided to do a breakout on the first shipment to check for fertility.

YIKES. Only 60-70% fertility.  Four of the eggs I opened were obviously very old and had started to rot--they hadn't gotten to the 'green and smelly' stage yet, but were clearly nearly there with weak yolks and foul, yellow whites with dark solids floating in them.  About 1/3 of the rest of the eggs were clearly not fresh and had started to turn with the yolk mottled and discolored, but the albumen as yet unaffected.  Not fresh--not candidates for hatching. To be fair, the eggs had good strong shells.

I took some pictures of what I'd found and sent them and an email to the seller to let him know...that was 11 days ago, no response yet.  It's really disappointing to run across a chicken breeder such as this, most are very proud of their eggs and would never send old eggs or a shipment that isn't clearly marked, 'Fertile Chicken Hatching Eggs--Please Handle With Care And Do Not X-Ray'.  It's dead standard marking for the outside of the box, and no one I know has every had an issue with it.  It's how I mark my egg shipments when I send out eggs.

So...that's my sad little chicken egg story.  Geez, I think I would have done better to take my money and throw it into the street...

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring Is In The Air!

OK--so actually, technically Spring is in the ground.  Hey, whatever, the bulbs I dug last year from my mother's house and transplanted into my front yard--daffodils, lovely bright red tulips and delicate little muscaris--survived both my brutalist guerilla gardening and the winter and are starting to make flowers!  I planted them in an area where there are already bearded iris creeping over from the neighbor's yard, so over the years they can go nuts and fill in the space, I'm not worried about them spreading.  As a matter of fact I think I'm days away from my neighbor knocking on the door asking for some bulbs!

I already have hollyhocks, California poppies and dwarf snapdragons from my mother's house that I started from seed practically the first week we moved in 5 years ago (first things first, after all!), they come up beautifully every year.  The lilac starts I got from her yard last year are starting to bud out, so it's good to know that they made it, too!  Now if they'll just flower...

The tulips are still tight buds but should progress in a few days, so no pics of them yet--but the muscaris are getting a great start!

The mini daffodils, again, give 'em a few more days...

But hey, I officially have my first flower! 

 Every time I look at the flowers I got from my mom's house it gives me a wonderful, warm feeling; I'll always think of her when I see them...

Our weather is still giving us at or below freezing nights, but at least for the next few days our daytime temps are supposed to be in the low to mid 60's--best part, no damned wind

A chance for flowers to actually stay on the plants, yay!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Goodbye Winter, Hello Chickam!

Despite Winter holding on like your latest crazy ex-girlfriend, I *think* it's finally on the wane.  This week we actually had about two and a half lovely Spring days--enough to melt the snow and trigger my plum tree and one of my shrubs to burst into bloom two days ago...and then today we had a Howling Nevada Windstormⓒ <----- and yes, I think we have these big bastards often enough to have earned a copyright--that blew most of the flowers right off the plants.

But for a brief moment, we had our first taste of Spring!

The snow is, for the moment, gone from the chicken yard!  Look how excited they are!
OK, so they were actually lining up for dinner.

Bowie posed on the little chicken footbridge the kid made for the chickens across a drainage trench...
The kid made it because the feather footed girls had taken to leaping/flying over the trench when it had water in it, because Heaven forbid a chicken foot touch water and get wet, ick.

My plum tree had flowers for exactly two days.

Ditto this Forsythia shrub, although it did better than the poor tree.  The rest of my trees and shrubs have wisely decided to wait just a bit longer and haven't budded out yet.

Let me tell you, that was good enough for me, despite the rain & snow they are calling for the next three days.  Willpower is everything. Time to set eggs in the incubator for Chickam!

When the time comes in 3 weeks for the chicks to hatch, we'll run our Chickam webcast here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/chickam2008
If you tune in and see eggs, it means the hatch has begun!

Meanwhile I'll update the Chickam2008 Twitter page as needed, probably in 10 days when I candle these eggs to see how many embryos we have starting.  

I'd gotten a dozen Dark India Cornish Rock eggs off of ebay...

...and have a lovely selection of eggs from our own ladies!

So the ReptiPro has been test run this week and is purring along as usual.  The eggs have been labeled and sorted...
Sorting through which of our own eggs we want to hatch is torturous...kinda like deciding who gets to go on the lifeboat and who stays with the Titanic.  You spend a lot of time fussing over them, second-guessing yourself (I've two like this to choose from, what if the one I chose is infertile...?), checking them under a strong light to eliminate any with cracks, poor eggshell quality, bad air cells...

But in the end I picked out an assortment of 13 eggs from our girls: 4 tiny banty eggs, 4 medium/small eggs, and the rest large eggs.  I tried to get a good assortment of colors and types.

So we will have 25 eggs in the incubator this time around.  I'm going to try something new which I think *should* work--I'm going to try to stagger and stretch out the hatch a bit over two days, a Friday and Saturday, so school kids can see chicks hatching, and adults who work during the week can hopefully see chicks hatch on Saturday.  Of course as usual, I fully expect those four banty eggs to hatch 1-2 days early as they sooo love to do.  But I'll be ready this year...

The first 13 eggs I set today, I mixed up the Dark Cornish and our eggs. In addition to being numbered, these are also marked as Lot 'A'.

And here is Lot 'B', which go in tomorrow.

Into the ReptiPro goes Lot A!

Oh yes, I nearly forgot--because it just wouldn't be Chickam without some kind of stupid drama, this year when I unpacked the incubation supplies, I discovered that my water weasel was leaking, and in several spots, too.  A water weasel is the little silicone water tube toy that the temperature probe goes into, used to simulate an egg and so get an exact reading of the internal egg temp. Works a treat for maintaining near-perfect incubation temps.  Naturally, naturally, these things are laughably impossible to find locally in stores, and must be mail ordered, ha ha, when I need it now. Not to mention that going into a store and telling some young clerk you want a water weasel is apt to get security called on you. 

Especially when you start describing the thing.
"See, it's this floppy soft plastic water-filled tube...it's a toy, ya see...you hold it and squeeze it, let it slide through your hands, usually while taking a bath..."

So since my water weasel has failed me, I MacGyver one up using a plastic Ziploc bag, some water and packing tape.  And isn't trying to roll up and tape into a tube-shape a water-filled plastic bag while juggling packing tape fun, kids!

No.  Like, not at all.  Let me tell you, I used most of my $2 cuss words doing it.  But it's done and as you can see in the pictures, working just fine.

Yay for DIY.  And for chicks in three weeks!

And for turning eggs 5 times a day for the next three weeks.  But that's OK, I've cleared my calendar...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wait--Did You WANT That Tree? My Bad...

Another Nevada 'Holy Shit It's The Endtimes' windstorm today.  Let's see what my street looks like!

Two houses down...the fence took one for the team.

Just beyond that though, not to be outdone, is the one that blocked the *entire* street.

At our house the roof to the chicken run was once again trying to leave, so J. had to reattach it in the middle of all this fun. We hopped into the car to pick up the kid from the bus stop so she wouldn't have to walk home in this shit, and took the camera along because we knew what we'd see.

The local park had one tree just plain ripped in half.

The house was saved from one falling tree by another that held, but the fallen tree DID manage to claim the telephone pole & wire as it's victim. Not to mention the fence.

Lots of trees on houses, in every combination you could think of.

This one thought outside the box and instead of falling on the garage it was close to, went for distance and nuked the house. But it did take the trash can with it.

This one decided to make getting into the house a challenge.
'Welcome', my ass...

Ditto for this one, these two trees had a plan.

"Hmmm, let's see--how can we really make this guy's day a royal pain? I know, let's play, 'Where's The Front Door?'"
Answer: It's under two very large trees!  Have fun!

Could have fallen in any other direction and missed the house. But nooo....

This one said the Hell with the house, let's take out some mailboxes!

And this poor guy had such a downed tree tangle, it looked like a tornado had hit.

This was a crying shame.  Beautiful tree.

Some of them had a really strong 'You shall not pass!' vibe. Not content to block the front door, this little asshole won't even let the poor slob up the driveway and onto the property.

This tree gave the homeowner a break and fell towards the street.

While this one fell IN the street.

The local carwash once again had their roof ripped off, peeled like a sardine tin. We just pulled up and went, Yup, it's gone again.

Yeeaahhh, bet those new owners are thrilled.

At least they won't have to go far to retrieve the roof pieces, they were right across the street.

But it wasn't just trees, entire fences were flattened.

Waved to our neighbor calling his homeowners insurance company from his roof...what was left of it.

Are you a lone tree next to the roadway? Well if there's no house around to fall on, do what you can by taking out the entire neighborhood's Internet, dammit.

During the last windstorm this set of trees really wreaked havok.  Not to be outdone, this time...

...they got points for acrobatics.  Yes, that is a chunk of the treetop hung upside-down in the wires.

Don't know how they got that one down. After this we went home and waited for about 24 hours for the power to come back on...