Thursday, August 08, 2013

Pips and Peeps and Pipsqueaks

Despite failing miserably to hatch out chicks from both an incubator and a hen last month, we tried again, this time using just the incubator and with fertilized eggs pulled right out from under a dozen hens.
Happily, I get to say that Wes' eggs did not let us down this time.
The due date on these is, 21 days, is August 9, this Friday, but Tuesday night, I happened to wander into the laundry room for something (so easily distracted: I was supposed to be outside watering flowers) and heard a noise.
"Dwayne," I hollered towards the garage. "There's chirping coming from the incubator." 
Was there ever! Normally, the first sign an egg is about to hatch is the pip -- a small hole -- that the chick makes when its lungs start to function and it needs more oxygen. Well, it had oxygen and it had a good set of lungs. 
This is what I saw when we opened the incubator: 

No one is supposed to hatch on the rotating tray! Because a chick starts to flop about immediately, two days before the due date, that rotating tray must come out so the eggs lay on a flat, mesh metal tray but this little chick was four days early. 

My husband is now a fowl obstetrician!

His freshly-laundered handkerchief was the closet "rag" his maternity nurse (me) could find. 

Our previous chick experience was several-days-old chicks brought home from breeders. This is our first time hatching out eggs we've incubated ourselves. 
As a woman who does not have children and isn't really into pregnancies or babies, this is my very first experience with birth! Can you call it a birth when you punch and kick your way out of an egg??
Holding the newborn:

We're bonding, I can tell. 

Since it's a chicken, the nursery is out in the coop. My husband got "Uni" -- a gender-neutral name for our firstborn because we won't know for two months if it's a Uno or an Una -- settled under the heat to dry off and rest. Uni spent much of its time struggling to walk then collapsing to rest. A very hard thing to watch. 

Starting to dry off. 
Uni survived the first night and in the morning, looked, as expected, like a small potato covered in fuzz. By Wednesday morning, two other eggs were showing pips and making chirping sounds.

Green eggs produce green egg layers!
Our eggs are viable this time -- we finally have babies! By Saturday, all the eggs that are going to hatch will have done so or will be doing so. Some chicks take all day to hatch out, others just a couple of hours. The longer it takes, the more exhausted the chick is when it emerges.
Hopefully, most of these chicks will be hens (since our four June chicks consist of three roosters and only one hen)  and at least one will be a green-egg laying hen. Regardless, it'll be February before anyone is old enough to lay an egg.
That will make a nice Valentine's gift from the new chickens. 

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