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. =)


Susie said...

This sounds like fun! I look forward to hearing and seeing more.

Jo said...

WOW! This is soooo exciting! Please do blog about this little adventure of yours. Once we get settled in our own place, we're thinking of getting a few hens ourselves. :)

Emily said...

Wow. I am proud of your for checking one more thing off your dream list. That is very cool. I would love to bring Owen around sometime and let him check them out. What a great opportunity.

Candace Smartt said...

Very awesome! Love reading about this.
Our baby birds hatched two weeks ago and they just left the nest so I am anxious to see your little ones. How fun.

Jacoline said...

I think this is such a funny-Kara-thing to do! Love it... Please keep blogging about it and when they're coming out; pictures, pictures, pictures.... Please?!

Have fun!

April said...

definitely keep posting! and if you do get lots of chicks you have to offload, let me know. i'm trying to convince my mom to keep them...bigger yard and she has more experience! this is so fabulously exciting to me. jealous!!!!!

Emily said...

So, I showed Owen your blog and tried to explain the eggs growing little chickens thing. I asked him if he wanted to come over and see the little eggs and the baby chick. He pointed to the eggs on the screen and said, "I eat those." I guess I shouldn't have fed him eggs for breakfast before showing him your babies. Oops.

Kara said...

Emily, it will be more fun for Owen to see baby chicks anyway. They should hatch on Memorial day. Anytime after that and he should have something to really check out! That is, assuming I do my job right!

Designed by Lena