Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fluff Balls

Well, it looks like our count remains at 5. Not a great ratio, but apparently normal for incubation. Hens are much better at this!


Katelyn was a little concerned that the chicks overhead what we were having for supper--chicken. Oh dear!
The children enjoy holding the chicks. Hopefully this batch of chickens will be nice and tame. Our runner ducks just started laying eggs, so I'm planning on snatching a few of them and putting them into the incubator! I think I've found an addiction!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chicks' birthday!



Well, the day has finally arrived. We had one hatch out last evening -- at bedtime, of course. The kids got to stay up late to watch the first one hatch out of the shell. I think I was just as excited as the kids!




video

As of Monday at noon, three more have made their way out of the shell. Looks like a few more may be working on it!

They're not exactly the cutest thing when they first come out of their shell! They will dry off in a few hours and be cute little fluff balls.



Saturday, February 21, 2009

Egg Candling

Before a few weeks ago, I had never heard that phrase before. So much yet to learn! As I mentioned before, in the olden days, an actual candle was used, but I was afraid I would cook the poor things. So we rigged up a desk lamp, flower pot, and aluminum foil for our make-shift egg candler. It was amazing to watch the growth inside the egg. At week one, we candled them and saw small black dots, which would hopefully be a baby chick. Just last night, we candled them one last time. Looks like we may have 8 or so baby chicks! We actually saw the heartbeat in one egg, saw one baby chick jump, and could see the faint outline of a beak in another. I may be weird, but I find all this truly fascinating. Better than TV!

This is a picture of the inside of the egg. My camera is not the greatest at taking pictures in the dark, so I borrowed one from the web similar to what we were seeing inside the egg. The miracle of life!
Now we are not supposed to touch the eggs from here on out. The chicks are positioning themselves in there for their escape from their shell. To move them would disorient them and possibly interfere with their hatching ability. So we wait. Did you know that the chick's head is always in the larger end of an egg? Did you notice that eggs are always stored (or should be) with the larger end pointing up? You wouldn't want your chicken standing on its head, would you?


I've read that if you are quiet in the days prior to hatching that you may hear peeps coming from the eggs. At this point, a hen would start clucking back to encourage them to break out of their shell. So if you should happen to stop in and hear me clucking, don't mind me. Just talking to my eggs :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Incubation!

Well, I've decided to try something I always thought would be fun! Incubating eggs. I know, I know, not something everyone is in to, but we thought we'd try it and see how it goes. On February 3 we started 14 Buff Orpington eggs (from our hens here at the farm) in a inexpensive styrofoam incubator. Little did I know how technical this would be. It's quite a process!

While this all happens naturally when a hen sits on a clutch of eggs, to imitate the process is a bit challenging. We'll see how successful we are. They are "scheduled" to hatch on February 24 (give or take a few days). The eggs need to be kept at a consistent temperature of 99.5 degrees (how do you get a 1/2 degree???).

Hens normally turn their eggs about every 15 minutes or so, but research tells us that about 4-6 times a day is sufficient. Whew! That's all I would get done!

Not sure how hens know which way is up, but we had to mark ours with X's and O's so we knew if they were flipped or not! At about a week into the process, we candled the eggs. In the old days, actual candles were used, but we used a lamp instead. In a pitch dark room, you hold the egg up to the light and if all goes well, you should see a tiny black spot which would be the embryo. Truly amazing to watch it move around in the egg. Kinda like an egg ultrasound! The kids are excited to see how many hatch. Stay posted!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Welcome

Welcome to our blog. We look forward to sharing with our family and friends what life on a farm entails. While we are not a large-scale farming operation, we have an "Old MacDonald's Farm" that enables us to interact with some animals and learn lots in the process! Our animals can be quite zany at times and have provided us with a lot of cheap entertainment! Enjoy!