|Posted by jameshillgoats on February 15, 2014 at 2:00 AM|
Some days I think that life is really a dark comedy played out for the entertainment of some superior being that we have yet to meet! Before you cast doubt on my emotional health, witness this account of the past 48 hours here on our farm:
These two days started out normal enough. Returning home from a night shift at my "real job", I followed our usual morning routine of animal care and household chores. On awakening from a short midday nap, I found our clutch of olive eggers starting to pip. Hubby and son were informed of this development, and cautioned to keep our house cats quarantined in the back room until the hatch was complete. The remainder of the day passed without event, goodnights were exchanged, and everyone settled into bed.
At a quarter till four in the morning, we were jarred awake by the shrill tone of fire alarms. Hubby and I flew out of bed. There was no smoke, but an acrid odor permeated the air. A thorough search of the house revealed a burned-out central heating coil--troublesome enough, but no danger of a housefire. Relieved, I returned to bed to catch a couple more hours of sleep, while hubby (the early riser in the family) adjourned to the back porch for coffee.
Two hours later, my frantic hubby burst into the bedroom with: "Get up! We got a mess with the incubator!". You guessed it...in the rush and panic of the early morning fire scare, no one thought to shut the cats back in their room. Our Siamese tomcat had toppled the entire incubator to the floor. The one just hatched chick survived the fall and had been rescued from the marauding feline.
I held out litle hope for the remaining chicks. The eggs were spider-webbed with cracks, bits of shell dropping away as they were gathered off the floor. Already concerned about the viability of this hatch due to unseasonably cold weather and questionable candling results, we debated attempting to continue the hatch. The usual incubation cycle for chicken eggs is 21 days, with the last three days being the most critical. Even small changes in temperature or humidity during that time can ruin a full setting of eggs. But a small chance of survival is better than none, so back into the incubator they went.
We hovered and fretted over the incubator the rest of the day. Was the amount of water we added sufficient to keep the chicks moist enough to hatch? Or had we added too much, effectively drowning them in their shells? Could a cracked egg even hatch?
By mid-morning, two chicks had zipped themselves out of their shells. Two more, their eggs among those most damaged, had peaked out tiny little beaks, but had given up the effort. The remaining two eggs showed no sign of life. Early that afternoon I decided to assist the two stuck chicks. This is a tricky proposition at best. Peeling away the shell can tear into the small blood vessels lining the inner membrane, essentially causing the chick to bleed to death. It was as we thought. The humidity in the incubator was too low, and the flexible inner membrane of the eggs was "shrink wrapped" to the chicks. After moistening them with distilled water I was able to remove the them, but felt it was too late. The two stuck chicks appeared weak, exhausted and inactive when returned to the clutch.
I left for work that evening tired and downcast, but thankful that ANY of the chicks had survived. The clutch was given one more night in the incubator, though I expected the demise of the weak and the unhatched chicks. I felt I would be better able to accept their deaths in the morning.
On my return home I was surprised to find hubby and son beaming and happy as they led me to the incubator. The weak chicks were still alive, and the two others had hatched themselves during the night. All seven chicks were alert and active, shoving and tumbling over each other as they cheeped their little hearts out! Can you believe they beat those odds???
I'M a SURVIVOR!!!
Categories: All things chicken