The week ended on a rather emotional note because two chicks hatched on Thursday evening with a hole in their bellies.
We'd been watching the holes in the eggs all day and they weren't getting much bigger; the chicks were cheeping but not doing much work. About ten o'clock, my husband and I were peering into the incubator when he noticed something on the side of the green egg.
So he scooped it up and ever so carefully broke it out of the shell. But it was bleeding all over its belly and all over his hand.
We broke the second chick out of its shell and it was the same thing.
They were bleeding as they hatched.
Very awful. Newly-hatched, they are so fragile and tiny at that time, now way to survive that. Now I wish we'd thought to have an emergency space set up, with a heat lamp, near the incubator; maybe they would have clotted if we could have stoppered the hole and kept them warm. It is not an experience I want to see again.
Then on Saturday, I made the decision to have our two disabled chicks put down...which in country terms means a shot to the head. It was more humane than watching them starve to death. Particularly the second chick that hatched out, Twoonie; its legs were splayed open and it simply couldn't get around, couldn't get to feeders or waterers, of which we have plenty. I held it in the palm of my hand, I helped it drink and that's when I realized I simply couldn't watch it die a slow death as the other chicks got bigger and stronger and literally walked all over it. Even chicks could peck a much weaker "sibling" to death, I'm sure (already experienced that with chickens and certainly don't want to see that again, either). The other disabled chick could move around better but its feet were curled in so it would never be able to compete for food and it, too, wouldn't grow.
"I think I need to take a break from hatching chicks," I said to my husband. "This has been a bit hard on my heart." So different from eggs simply not hatching.
So today we concentrated on the four big chicks we got in June. They were ready to move outdoors. Their first taste of grass today, and sleeping in their "cottage" tonight. Hopefully the fox won't peer in at them on their very first night.
|My husband built this lovely, moveable "chicken tractor" and went for the heritage look on the access doors.|
|I managed to catch three out of four.|
|Making happy chick noises about their discovery of grass.|
|A new way to obsess over the chickens. Or else she thinks her orange ball is in there since we can't seem to find it in the yard!|
So all is well in the world of chicks again and we wait again to see how many hens and roosters develop in our group of seven. But for now, I'm going to enjoy the experience of chicks again.
|That's Uni on the left.|