Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Story of the Chicks That Lived... and Other Farm News

I will start this post with a little tale of life and how it is both fragile and strong.

Last week on Friday, April 29 the eggs in the incubator began to hatch, right on schedule.  By Saturday lunchtime, it seemed as though the hatching was done. 17 fluffy little chicks of various colors were  ensconced in the brooder out in the Winter Coop.  Of the remaining eggs, 2 had started hatching and had stopped, and the rest showed no signs of life.  This was not unexpected as Diego the Rooster cannot possibly fertilize all 31of the hens (although he certainly gives it his best try!).  Just in case, I waited until bedtime to unplug the incubator.
Sunday morning around 10:00 or so, I brought the incubator to the kitchen to clean it out and get it ready to return to its owner.  As I removed the “duds”, much to my surprise, I heard faint peeping!  No way! 
One by one I began checking the eggs, holding them to my ear, tapping them, listening again then putting them out on the table.  Pretty soon I had them all spread out and then… there it was again! 

Finally I found an egg with a tiny peck crack on it.  A faint peep from within confirmed that I had the right egg.  I tucked it into my shirt to warm it up, and plugged the incubator back in.  Meanwhile, I put the rest of the eggs into a container for Kevin to take to the woods.  He headed out the door but came back a minute later… “there’s something peeping in here!”.  Another one!  This time, it was one of the eggs that had started to hatch and then stopped – I had thought the chick had died but it had not.  The membrane was all leathery, the chick inside was cold and weak.  It is not recommended to help chicks out of their shells but I felt that this chick was not going to get out by itself.  I basically peeled the chick out of the shell. 
Pretty helpless and unattractive when they are freshly hatched...

We had to leave then for a family gathering, so I put the barely breathing chick and the peeping egg in the makeshift brooder in the bathtub under a heat lamp.  We were gone several hours and when we got back the other chick was about half hatched but seemed to be stalled, so I carefully helped that one out too.  I didn’t have too much hope for these two chicks at first, they were so weak.  The good news is that hour by hour it seemed like they got stronger, and by Tuesday evening, they joined their siblings out in the coop. 
But what a difference a few days later!
  Rollie and Kevin sawed white oak boards on Saturday, after getting stuck with the sawmill in the woods Friday afternoon.  Kevin had hoped not to be stuck at all this spring but it just didn’t work out that way.  The lumber will be used to remake the bed of the hay wagon.  The old bed lasted 15 years: hope this one lasts as long. 
ForestRanger and the pigs are still making crop circles in the field.  They have about a week and a half left in this field before they move to the next field.  Then this one can be plowed up so we can plant our sweet corn and the pumpkins.  Kevin loves this way of fertilizing the soil, he doesn’t have to move manure at all.

I’ll close with  a couple of photos of my Mother’s day gifts from my family.  From Kurt, some awesomely good beans, and Kori a book that was on my wish list… can’t wait to read it but reading time is short supply.   Hard to top good coffee and books!  
Although Kevin and I seldom give each other gifts, he surprised me with a broadfork.  I love quality garden tools and this one will make working the garden this spring a little easier. This bed has a lot of weeds and plant residue from last year so this new tool will really help me clean it up.  Thanks Kevin! 

There is so much to tell about in the spring, but this post is long and I will close before I bore you all.  Stop by next week: I hope to have some new pictures of the pup and maybe some progress on the garden to share.  Until then, be well friends. 

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