Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Don't Know What to Call This One...

I have lost another chicky baby. Matilda got pretty sick yesterday. Today she gave up. She was laying down this evening, having a hard time breathing. She was pretty lifeless. My poor girl! She passed peacefully. She was such a pretty baby, my little chipmunk. She also had the sweetest tweet. 

Matthew 10:29-31 has brought me some comfort. Jesus says,"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father. And even the hairs on your head are numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." He watches over the sparrow. Surely He watches over my chicky babies.

While I was watching Matilda laying there struggling harder and harder I was reminded of another baby that I once cared for. I don't know what her given name was. I knew her as Eun mi. Here she is.


I took care of  her on her fist night at the orphanage in China. She had been abandoned near the North Korean border. By God's grace she had been brought to the House of Love. There was much rejoicing and prayer upon her arrival. That must be a bit what it is like in heaven when one of God's children come back to him by accepting His son as their savior. That is a cool thought. Anyway, we took her to the hospital. They said that it was a miracle that she was alive and sent us home. It was the dead of winter in northern China after all. The hospital was not very modern at all. Here she would have been rushed to the NICU.

Mother Anne asked me to care for her over night. I kept her on my chest most of the night to make sure that she was breathing. I fed her often. She seemed to have trouble eating. Later we would discover that she had a cleft palate. It was interior, with no outward sign. She was precious and tiny. I hardly slept that night. I was so worried about her. I prayed over her and sang to her.

The next day I moved with her to the baby nursery where she wouldn't be held as much. It was hard to leave her there. I knew that she was in good hands, and that she was loved. We left the orphanage for Tianjin a few days later. When we called the orphanage before leaving China we learned that Eun mi had passed away. That was the first baby that I ever lost. We cried, mourned and rejoiced that she had known such love and care for a few weeks. Some pictures of Eun mi were shown to doctors back in the states and they believe that she had a heart condition as well. Poor girl. How we loved you! I can't wait to meet her in heaven! 

Thanks God for reminding me of Eun mi. I guess that I have done a lot of care taking in my life, and suffered many passing on. I don't know the purpose of it all. I do know that I trust God and I thank Him for my soft heart.

The other baby chickies have been lectured-no more giving in or giving up! You must stick around and stay strong. I am going to try to hit the hay. It has been a long weekend.

I will keep you posted.

Let the Naming Begin!

Alright, here we go. Time to name my girls, until I find out that they are boys anyway!

This is Xena. She is a Golden Lakenvelder. Pretty , eh?


This is Trace. Loud mouthed and fast talking! She is a Blue Cuckoo Maran. She is a bit bossy if you can't tell!


I believe that this is Matilda. This was a few days ago. All of the other pictures were yesterday. Matilda is suffering with coccidiosis. I couldn't put a sad sleepy picture of her up here! Her wing feathers are starting to grow in though.


This is Atta Girl. She is a Blue Laced Red Wyandotte. Sounds fancy!


 Here is our other Blue Cuckoo Maran. I just can't come up with a name for her!


This is Jemima. I love that name! I guess that I read too much Jemima Puddleduck when I was a kid. She is our other Blue Laced Red Wyandotte.


This is Edith. She is a Black Australorp. Isn't she something? She is a bit bossy with her height. I hope that she is a girl!


Meet Elroy. Yes, I hope that I am not cursing her with a boy's name, but it just popped into my head and I love it. As best we can tell she is a Blue Splash Maran. She should be light with gray "splashes". I can't wait to see how she turns out!


I still have four Cuckoo Marans that I need to name. I can't quite tell them apart yet, except that one has feathered legs. I know that one is Hunca Munca. I also know that one is Hyacinth. She enjoys hosting candlelight suppers with riparian entertainment. The others have yet to be named. Any suggestions? I need three names. Let's see what you can come up with.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Babies

My babies crack me up and break my heart. We are at a dozen now. I have been treating them for coccidiosis. A couple of them are looking rough. Come on babies! They get this illness from eating their poo. Being baby chicks, they pick at everything! Coccidia are present in all chicken intestines. Most build up an immunity over time, but it can make them sick. The coccidia affect the intestinal lining, irritating it and causing possible hemorrhaging. I have started treating them. Hopefully I caught it in time. Come on chicky babies! Two of them seem to be suffering more than the others. I am watching them closely. 

On to happier thoughts, here is a video of my babies. A bug got into their brooder today and they went nuts! Have fun watching!

video

Stay tuned...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ode to Wuella


Thank you everyone for your encouragement, support and mourning with me. I had to take a bit before I could write more. Here she is. She was so cute and sweet.

She moved when I took this one.


I knew that she was struggling today because her neck was weak and she wasn't tweeting. I went in to give her her second meal of the day and she had passed away. All of the rest of the girls were quiet. I cried. I called Dave and left him a message at school. I took her out, of course. We will bury her and Lil' Runt together. Our first chick that hatched and our last chick that hatched. I am thankful for the experience. I learned so much! Many thanks to Andrew for helping me learn how to care for her. We celebrated his victory on Roswell today. Check it out here. It was great to be around chicken loving people after losing one. I will always remember our first chick. She holds a very special place our hearts.

The rest of the chicks are growing and starting to show their personalities. Loud, bossy, quick, quiet. Their wing feathers are coming in. They are so stinking cute. We have to start handling them more. We spent so much time taking care of Wuella that the rest of the girls didn't get a whole lot of attention. That is changing! This weekend I plan to take individual pictures and give them their proper names. 

If you want to come see the chicks, Tuesday looks good. Let me know. They will start looking funny in a couple of weeks as they start growing all of their feathers in and hit that unavoidable awkward stage. 

I am tired after a long day. We have a busy day ahead tomorrow. I will post more soon. stay tuned...

Gone

I went in to feed Wuella a minute ago and she was gone. I am bawling like a baby.

Chickens are Legal in Roswell!

Hooray! Chickens are legal in Roswell! My newfound chicken loving friend Andrew has been in this battle for a while. The judge is officially ruling next week, but we already know the verdict. Check out the article in the AJC. Andrew has been a great help in my chicken hatching and raising experience, lending me the egg turner, sharing knowledge, and currently helping me nurse my sick chicky and treating my others. Whew! Way to go Andrew! I am off to celebrate with the chicken loving folks.

I will have more updates later today. Wuella is hanging in there. I am trying to increase her feedings per day to increase strength. It is not unlike a newborn baby, trying to feed her every two hours. So far she is still fighting.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Baby Chicks

Here are a few more photos. I will try to take a picture of every chick soon. I wasn't very methodical this last time and couldn't tell who I had a photo of and who I didn't!





They are changing every day. Their wing feathers are coming in already! They grow up so fast. Now they run and play and eat all day. I can't believe how much they drink now. I can sit and watch them for hours! Want to come join me?


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chick Parade

Here are just a few of the chicks. The first one if Wuella. She is still struggling to make it. I am attached to the little gal. Please pray for her to get strong! The rest have yet to be named as they are always running around! Soon enough I will have them sorted out. I hope that you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoy watching the little gals!






Tuesday, May 26, 2009

So cute!

All of the chicks are so cute! I have to get a good picture to post. Hopefully this afternoon I will. 

I have been watching over those chicks so closely that it is weird to be at work today! Last night was sad. We lost a another one. She was the last hatch so far. She was tiny and we called her Lil' Runt. She must have hatched before she was ready and used up all of her energy running around. We loved you Lil' Runt. I had big hopes for you. Now you can run around in chicky heaven.

Wuella is hanging in there. She is one tough chick! We started force feeding her yesterday. She seems to take it well. I fed her before coming to work today and will go home to feed her again at lunch. She amazes me. As long as she doesn't give up, we won't give up on her. She pulls her legs under her now and can walk a little better. It takes a whole lot of effort though. We are rooting for you little Wuella.

I'll have to get some video of the other chicks running around and eating and drinking. They are so cute! It is amazing the instinct that they have to do all of that. I am so glad for this experience. 

I will say that Wuella is teaching me a lesson. I need to get myself back into the Word of God. I have been slacking. If I don't feed myself, I will not be sustained. We all have issues that keep us from doing this, be it "tired legs", busyness, sickness. Wuella is reminding me of this. If I didn't feed her right now, she wouldn't have a chance. Thank you God for sustaining me and feeding me. Thank you for giving me a chance. I love you Wuella. Hand in there chicky girl. I'll be home to feed you soon! Thank you God for allowing me to take care of Wuella.

Thanks to all for reading and for praying. Keep praying for Wuella! I still have 5 eggs in the incubator. We'll give them one more day to see if they hatch. 

Stay tuned...

Monday, May 25, 2009

We've lost one

I am not sure which one, thankfully not Wuella. I am attached to her now, rooting for her like crazy! I took a peek into the incubator through the window and saw a couple of chicks piled on top of another one. I knew it was gone. She could have been trampled, or just might not have made it. Anyway, surely she is in chicken heaven , where the grass is green and having a good time. We gently and quickly removed her. Dave buried her in a special spot. Hopefully that is the only one that will go down. I guess the sad comes with the joy too. It is still worth it to see all of theses happy little peeps. I think that we will move them to the brooder tonight. I can't take them being in there tomorrow while I am at work. Granted, one could get trampled in there just as easily. God protect my chicky babies!

Stay tuned...

Bock Bocks Everywhere!

Okay, so they aren't everywhere. But currently so many in the incubator that I can't count them through the fogged up windows. The first five are Wuella, Xena, Trace, Atta Girl, and Edith. I lost count and names there after. There are at least 10 counting Wuella.They hatched all day yesterday and all night last night. I was one tired mama hen!

I can't get a picture. The windows are fogged clear over. Believe me, I wish that I could get some. I want to see the little buggers!

Keep praying for our first, Wuella. She is still hanging in there. Her legs haven't corrected yet. I keep telling her that it is okay to have braces because her mommy, myself, did when I was a little baby. She has drank a bit and I think that she ate some accidentally. She doesn't seem to have the energy to peck at food. I want her to make it, so I have been rotating chicks from the incubator into the brooder with her to keep her company(no baby likes to be alone) and to show her how to drink and peck. It is about time to put another one in and switch the current one out. It becomes apparent how little she is and how strong they are after a while. She must take after her namesake Manuel.He is a persistent guy. I couldn't name her Manuel, so Wuella it was. Wuella is tough and hanging in there. I am not going to force feed her. She has to learn to peck.

The others should come out of the incubator in a day or two. I want Wuella to be strong so that she doesn't get trampled on. I might have to make a partition in the incubator for her. We'll see. The constant peeping and raucous sounds that come from the incubator are cute, funny, calming and exciting all at the same time. I can't wait to take them out! 

Stay tuned....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Number Two and Three

Owen stopped by today to Meet Wuella. He enjoyed hearing her peep and try to walk around.

Here is little Wuella all fluffy in the brooder. She is still struggling to walk. She hasn't drank or eaten very much either. We changed her splint from a band-aid to a pipe cleaner. It is more sturdy. If you are the praying type, please pray that she will start walking upright and eating and drinking. She peeps SO loud. I am so glad that she is all fluffy now. Now meet little Wuella.

While Owen was visiting we had a surprise appearance. I had been hearing some chirping and saw a few little beak holes through the incubator windows. We were all checking intermittently. I went in to take a look and there was a chick! Owen named her. We had a couple of suggestions of course. Out of them he chose Xena. We thought it fitting as she just seemed to pop out! Here she is through the window in the incubator. World, meet Xena! She is a blue laced red wyandotte. You can tell that her feathers and beak are lighter that Wuella's.

Shortly after Xena arrived number 3 hatched. Here they both are. It is a little fuzzy but you can see her. She is a blue cuckoo maran. I haven't picked a name for her yet.

Number four is trying to hatch and Xena and number 3 are huddled around her. I am calling them all girls for now. I can only hope! Many others are rolling around and starting to hatch. It is all so exciting. I am getting worn out! We still have a ways to go.

Here is Lleulu checking out Wuella. She is curious about the chicks, but doesn't seem to be hunting them. She has been curled up near the incubator and checking the peeping sounds out. Maybe she will be a good mother hen. 


I will keep you posted as the hatching continues. What a great Memorial Day weekend! Stay tuned...

And the Hatching Begins!

Our first egg started hatching at school on Thursday. We were thrilled to see this little crack in the shell upon arriving at school.

It took the chick a whole day to get to this point, broken half way around the shell. A couple of things to point out. First, we wrote on the shell in marker. Bad idea. The shell is porous and it could have poisoned the chick. Thankfully, it didn't seem to bother this one. Write in pencil on a shell if you have to.  Second, I am not sure what I think about this little incubator. You can't control the temperature or humidity. The humidity is essential to their hatching. I think that this guy was suffering from low humidity.

At the end of the day on Friday we moved the entire incubator holding two unhatched eggs and one hatching egg to my house, their new home. I placed them in my big incubator to join their new brothers and sisters. 

When the chick still hadn't hatched I got worried. It had been many hours, over a a full day. I was afraid of it drying out and running out of energy. Thankfully I heard from a fellow chicken lover and experienced keeper of chickens. He told me that it was time to help it break free. I set up my chicken operating room and got busy. I had to carefully moisten the inside of the shell. Then I had to break away the shell, going around in a circle, just like the chick would have. Here is Dave inspecting the chick and my work.

Here is a close up of the chick still curled up inside. It was the first time that it saw me. "Are you my mother?" This baby chick is a black austrolorp. That is why it has a dark beak and feathers. Many actually hatch dark and grow light feathers later on.

Lleulu was watching the whole time. She didn't seem to mind what was going on.

Finally it came out of the shell. The poor thing was stuck to the membrane. 

I spent the next while slowly moistening and picking off bits of membrane and shell.

I think that I was picking off some shell here. The little peep was exhausted!

Here she is! Still wet, but ready to go. I put her back into the incubator to dry off and peep a lot. Hopefully she will get the other eggs hatching. 

She ended up with the name Wuella, after a student at school that was so thrilled about a baby chick hatching! Now she is dried off and in the brooder. I have to get a photo of her all fluffy. She has been peeping loudly, apparently to a peeping chick inside of a shell, inside of the incubator! We should have more hatching soon. I keep checking and no shells are broken yet.

Little Wuella has another hurdle to cross. She has splayed legs or spraddled legs. This is when a chicken looks like it is doing a split. She wasn't that bad, but couldn't stand on her own and walked like a drunkchicken, like I have ever seen a drunk chicken. We found this web site, followed the instructions and are awaiting the results. She already can sit up better. She should be standing tomorrow! Poor little Wuella. What a tough beginning to life! You'll have some siblings soon enough. Hang in there. 

I will have more to report soon. Stay tuned.... 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Delicious!


Yummy! My first "harvest" this year has started. My sugar snap peas have started to take off! They are blooming and growing peas fast. I only planted a few, enough to snack on while outside. I love them fresh picked! 

I am really writing to share the most delicious recipe with you. It is long and looks complicated, but it isn't. Trust me. It was so yummy! It is for sure going into my rotation, especially for having guests over or taking someone a meal. 

It was in Cooks Illustrated Magazine. They are the people that do America's Test Kitchen on PBS. They try stuff out, figure out the best way to make it and share it with you! Now I am passing it on. Bear with me.... lots of typing ahead.... you can't get this on their website without buying a subscription, so eat up people!

Baked Ziti
serves 8-10(I say 8 adults with a side dish, or 6 with big helpings or seconds)

Note* don't use pre-shredded cheese, it doesn't melt well

1 lb whole milk or 1 %cottage cheese( I picked up 4% off the shelf. It worked great)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz grated parmesan (about 1 1/2 cups)
table salt
1 lb ziti or other tubular short pasta( I used penne)
2 tblsp olive oil
5 med garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1  28 oz can tomato sauce
1  14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tsp sugar
ground black pepper
3/4 tsp cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz low moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

Method:
1) Heat oven to 350 degrees with oven rack in middle position. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup parmesan cheese together. Set aside. Boil water and cook pasta. Do not over cook. 7 minutes is good. Drain, set aside and leave in colander. Do not wash the pot!

2) Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12 inch skillet(or whatever you have), until it becomes fragrant, but not brown(mine browned and tasted fine). Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened. Off heat stir in 1/2 cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.

3) Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in a small bowl. Transfer mixture to the empty pot that you cooked the pasta in. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened. 3-4 minutes, stirring the whole time! Remove pot from heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup of the tomato sauce, 3/4 cup mozzarella . Stir to combine. Add pasta to coat thoroughly.

4) Transfer pasta to 13x9 baking dish(or whatever you have that will hold all of that pasta!) and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and parmesan over the top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

5) Remove foil and continue cooking for another 30 minutes until it is bubbling and brown. Cool for 20 minutes(I let mine sit for 40 and it was just right to eat). Sprinkle with remaining basil and serve!

I think that after you have this you won't go to the trouble of making lasagna again! So good! I can't wait to have leftovers. The flavors are bright and full.

Next time I make it I might try freezing half and serving half. It is too much to make just for the two of us. I might also try jazzing it up. I think that sausage, grated zucchini or mushrooms would be fantastic. Try it with a straight run the first time. You won't be disappointed! Let me know how yours turns out.


P.s.
Update on Potato Bread: it freezes beautifully! Make some!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One down

Upon candling my eggs for the last time I discovered one that I had either misread or missed. It definitely didn't have a baby chick growing. We are down to 17 eggs now. I couldn't see much this time. The eggs are mostly dark, but the air pockets look good. I hope this is a good indication! I could only see a little chick in one or two eggs, the others were too dark. It still amazes me to see those tiny beings moving around and blood vessels pumping inside of an egg!

Oh, I just looked out the window to see a Cardinal feeding it's baby. I knew that I had heard tiny peeps lately. Oh, maybe it was feeding it's mate! Is love in the air? Either way, I love spring time! Soon I will be watching my little chicks eat up. Can't wait. I do hope that they hatch!

Stay tuned... 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Meetup

The Atlanta Pet Chicken Owners meetup was great! I love meeting fellow chicken lovers and owners. Everyone was so encouraging and helpful. I can't wait to have chickens out of their shells to talk about. 

A meeting is going to be scheduled near Marietta/Smyrna for next month. You know that you want to come meet some chicken loving folks. I am hooked. For sure. I know, you knew that already. I can't stop learning about chickens and talking about them.

I might buy an incubator to rent out to classrooms and home schoolers. Please let me know if you or anyone you know would be interested. I am trying to put out feelers to see if it would be worth it. I think it would be. The miracle of life is amazing to behold.

Yes. Yes, indeed. I will be a proud mama hen. 

Stay tuned....

Monday, May 18, 2009

Egg Update



Isn't that a cool luna moth? I snapped a picture of it on the chicken coop tour.

We are approaching the final countdown. Well, almost. The eggs have one more week to go. The time is flying by. The eggs are looking good. Hopefully I was right in my candling efforts. Today the chicks growing inside of the eggs can hear, have eyelids and are growing feathers. They will spend the next few days growing rapidly!

I have been spending some time reading up on egg development and raising chicks. The public library has been a great resource. I have learned so much, but I know that I still have a long way to go. I am currently reading Living With Chickens. It has some great photos in it and is a quite enjoyable read. I definitely recommend it.

Hopefully tonight I will make it to the local Atlanta Pet Chicken Meetup Group.  I am sure that the people attending will have plenty of info to share with me on how to have a successful hatch and how to care for the new chicks once they do hatch. Getting anxious!

Stay tuned...     


Friday, May 15, 2009

Candling Update

I candled the eggs again last night. This time I had read up and knew what I was looking for. I could see much better this time, even on the darker shells. I think that there was only one dark thick shell that I could not decipher anything about. 

I got a big surprise.... eighteen eggs have growing chicks inside! I was pretty impressed. For my first hatching that is a great rate. There is a chance that I some could be "quitters". That means they stop growing and die. I hope that they all make it! I have at least one of every variety still going! I am so excited.

It really is amazing to get a view into an egg. To see a tiny being moving around and knowing that it had grown so much in just a few days time is a miracle. God made some truly unfathomable things and I am blessed to witness these little ones. You can see a space of air on one end of the egg, the chick, amniotic sac, and yolk in the middle, and a bit of fluid on the other end. So cool! The baby chick absorbs the yolk before hatching. This gives it the nutrients that it needs to break out of its shell and to survive for the next two days. Amazing! Today my chicks can hear, have eyelids and are growing feathers!

I can check them one more time before they hatch. Maybe this weekend. Then the countdown begins! I actually dreamed about eggs last night and candling them. It is amazing to sit there and witness life in the making. I guess they are getting to me.

Stay tuned! More is happening every day! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Egg Candling

Sunday night I tried my hand at egg candling. This allows you to tell if the embryos are developing. Here is a website that gives some information on the process. Here are pictures on the same site, backyardchickens.com. It is a bit tricky, especially with the dark shelled eggs. I used an LED head lamp held with my hand cupped around it and sat the egg on top of my hand. The white shelled eggs were easy to read. The almond eggs were ok. The dark and speckled ones, I have no idea about! If I am correct, around 25% of my eggs are developing. That would be about 10 eggs. It is a bit disappointing, but a bit of a relief too. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with 40 chicks if they all hatched! 

I am going to try to candle the eggs again later in the week, somewhere around day 10 of development. Hopefully I will know what I am looking for and be able to tell more on the dark shelled eggs. They should be a little more developed too. It is neat to see a tiny embryo moving! 

I am also trying to get the incubator settled in after placing the automatic egg turner in it. The temp reading are varying. The egg turner is a relief! I am not quite as stressed out over the eggs. 

This is all exciting and definitely a learning experience. Oh, I also learned that the egg and sperm are combined in the egg before incubation. It just kind of sits there and waits until the hen sits on the eggs to start development. Eggs are pretty amazing!

Stay tuned! I'll do my best to keep you updated.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Incubator

Here is the incubator that I am using. It is a Hova-Bator. This model is fairly old. The newer ones look kind of like space capsules and most have a bigger viewing window.

I forgot to take a picture of the eggs before I put in the automatic turner. So here are the eggs in the automatic turner inside of the incubator. I love all of the colors! To the side is my hygrometer. The egg turner makes a full rotation in four hours. It is quiet and slow. It was so strange to wake up this morning and not have to turn the eggs! I didn't know that I would miss that ritual so quickly!


The countdown is on! Only two weeks until baby chicks should be hatching! 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Making Our Chickens a Home: Part 1



This weekend Dave and I began the journey into making our chickens a home. We have a large yard, but over the years due to neglect and a lack of effort, about half of the yard had become an overgrown urban jungle. Today that changed.

Dave and I got ourselves pumped up and hit the ground running with pruners, machete and chain saw in hand. I can not believe that we tackled so much in so little time. I had avoided that side of the yard for years! Now it seems like our yard has magically doubled in size. 

Here is a before picture. I had already started cutting stuff down, though.

Here are the piles of cut down backyard jungle.



Everything cut down!



We still have to get a bobcat back here to get the roots out of the ground. 30 year old root balls are not easy to dig up and there are many of them! I wish that we could just Roundup them away. A few things are going to stay, like azaleas. I just gave them a hard pruning. They should grow back lovely and easy to maintain. They will miss next years bloom, but it is worth it! We are also keeping the oakleaf hydrangea and some flowering quince. 

After bobcatting the place up, we will get a load of mulch to spread out over most of the area. We are going to plant grass in one small area. We also have to pick a new site for out Japanese Maple. That is a hard one. I think we might try to plant some blueberry bushes and an apple tree too, but I am thinking too far ahead. The chicken coop comes first! I will post pictures of our progression and keep you all up to date! Thanks for reading and anticipating our chicken home.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Incubation...

I am learning a lot about my eggs! First, I don't mind turning them. I thought that I would, but it makes me check on them. I am borrowing an automatic egg turner for the rest of the incubation. It will definitely make things easier. Think of it! Three turns a day, times forty eggs, times 18 days. That is a lot of turns! The automatic egg turner turns them more frequently. Also, it takes 21 days to hatch but you don't turn them the last 3 days. 

I have had a problem getting my temperatures right too. The incubator is supposed to be 99 degrees. It seemed to be hovering around 97 on my standard thermometers. Then I got a hygrometer. It measures humidity and temperature. Humidity is important during incubation and hatching. The hygrometer measured temps at 95. I finally got them to go up to 97. Today I will try to raise it to 99, before I put the automatic egg turner in place. Whew! I have been stressing like a mother hen! I still have to get the humidity right. It is a little high. It should be 40-50% during incubation and 100% during hatch time. 

I have so much to learn! I will take some pictures of the incubator with and without the egg turner so that you get a good idea. I can't believe that it has almost been one week. The time is flying. I will have baby chicks in no time!

Stay tuned....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Back to Baking

I have meaning to bake bread for a few days now. I broke down this weekend and bought a loaf. 
But tonight I baked my best looking loaf of bread yet! 

I used a potato bread recipe from Cooking Light. This is the second time I that I have made it. Both times it was easy. I thought that I messed it up this time. Nope. Look at this loaf! Dave thought it was great to put a ruler in front of it. He was pretty impressed with my bread.

Here is the money shot. Is your mouth watering?


The recipe makes a loaf of bread and a pan of rolls. We ate some of the rolls with dinner. I am going to try freezing the rest of the rolls and see how they do. I'll let you know. 

This is one recipe that you have to try!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Question?

Does any one know of a group that helps save plants from houses that are being demolished or landscapes being ripped out? I would love for my plants to go to loving homes, but we have to rip them out. They are over grown. 

Let me know if you can think of anyone. I am trying to search for some myself. Anyone know of any Master Gardeners? They are usually into that kind of thing too. 

All of this for my chicken coop. I can't wait! I will keep you posted. I am turning the eggs 3 times a day. That is 120 turns every day. Hopefully I will get an automatic turner soon.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This really happened by accident...

On my chicken adventure, I truly thought that I would get some day old chicks to get my small flock started. They are so cute and fluffy! I pictured opening the box when they arrived and them chirping out, " Are you my Mother?" just like in the Dr. Seuss book.

My plans changed quickly on Friday. A teacher at school had borrowed a small incubator to hatch some eggs in her classroom. She asked me to help and we anxiously awaited our shipment of eggs. They finally arrived at lunch time and when we opened the box there were 4 eggs instead of 3. Oh no! Our classroom incubator only holds 3 eggs! What would we do with a 4th egg? I quickly decided that I would try to incubate it. 

First I hatched a plan for a basic incubator consisting of a light bulb and a box. Driving home from work with my little egg in the seat next to me, I remembered that my uncle had an incubator. He had just hatched ducklings. Whew. Now I knew that I had an incubator, but was it worth it to hatch just one egg? I contacted Little Gem Hatchery. I had been in contact with them about picking up some day old chicks. They are just a 40 minute drive away. I decided to see if they had any hatching eggs. 

I got a response back very quickly! Ginny and Lee told me that they had a lot of hatching eggs ready and waiting. Could I pick them up on Sunday? Woohoo!!! I was all set. I followed the instructions that they gave me for my one lonely egg and waited anxiously. Sunday morning Dave and I drove out to the hatchery. We saw all kinds of chickens and roosters, guineas, ducks, geese and a turkey! Ginny had already filled up two egg cartons for us filled with different kind of eggs. After our tour and some advice, I paid for our eggs and headed home.

Here is what we got!
 

I really wanted to hatch Cuckoo Marans. They are pretty birds and lay pretty eggs. Yes, I judge a chicken by it's looks and eggs. Actually, I was looking for 3 things when I was looking at chicks and it applies to getting hatching eggs, too. First was what a chicken looks like. Like any pet, you want to enjoy looking at it every day. There are so many varieties! I looked for hours online. The second factor was egg production and looks. I want a decent amount of eggs and pretty eggs. I love speckled eggs, brown eggs, almond eggs. Ok, I love any eggs. The third thing I looked for was the chicken's disposition. I wanted a docile chicken that did not tend to go broody. That means that she gets moody and wants to sit on her eggs all of the time. Little Gem Hatchery has chickens that fit my bill! 

Ok, our varieties and total.

3  Blue Laced Red Wyandotte
3  Blue Cuckoo Maran
3  Welsummer
6  Blue splash Maran
6  Lakenvelder
6  Golden Lakenvelder
12 Cuckoo Maran
1 Black Australorp(form the classroom shipment)

Whew! Let's look at them again.


After they go into the incubator it will take 21 days for them to hatch. That gives us an expected arrival date of May 24th. I have to turn them 3 times a day so that the embryos do not stick to their shells. We don't have a fancy automatic egg turner. The eggs are not viable until they are in the incubator. I mean, they aren't embryos until then, just egg and sperm hanging out separately. Interesting huh? I hope that all of the eggs hatch. If I do my job, we should have success. Some never develop and that can't be helped. This will be an adventure!

40 baby chicks! I will have to sell some to good homes and the hatchery said that they would take back any we can't handle or any roosters. You can't always distinguish a boy from a girl chick for 3-6 months. It depends on the variety of chicken. We only want girls so that they can lay eggs. You don't need a rooster to have eggs. 

I think I will start sharing some things that I learned from my class on here. What do you guys think? It was so informative! They really are not difficult to care for. They take work just like any pet. 

I will keep you all updated on the incubating process and on our coop building process.

Thinking about having chickens in your backyard? Maybe I can help! I am going to have some chicks soon and I know a really handy carpenter who can build your coop. =)
 
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