Saturday, May 30, 2009

In the hen house.

To get away from the stress and sadness that my family is dealing with, other family members give me a day or two and I try to get to see the girls. A few weeks ago when I went to see Chico and the gang, my friend Dan said "I have something cool to show you". When I arrived he came with me to the hen house, in one corner he had built a cage up off the floor, but why---- what could be in this cage?

What creature could be hiding in this cage, could this be a time out pen for Chico during one of his little brat moments? Something was sitting in the corner.

Why it was Gracie! She had her own cute little chicken condo! She is getting along well with all the other chickens, so it could only mean one thing. Gracie had started to hatch! I sure could use the smile. Dan knew this would make me happy and he is very kind hearted like that, to take the trouble and set this up for me, plus he is having fun with the girls as well. Dan did not know however that he should have tried to put all the eggs under Gracie at the same time, he spread them out over four days. Gracie only laid two eggs when she started to hatch as hens stop laying when they begin to sit. We were only going to let her have two or three chicks just to make her happy and for the fun of it. We decided to try some experiments, we gave her two of the brown eggs. Marlene gave us one of the brown eggs, we suspect now Lucy was the other. I wanted to try two brown eggs because some days Chico will mate with the smaller red sex-link hens, most days he falls off since he is much smaller and can't mate with them properly. We also heard that you can take eggs from the fridge, so we took the last three eggs Gracie laid before starting to hatch, put them out on the counter until room temperature and gave them to her as well.

Fast forward to nineteen days later.

Peek-a-boo mommy! This is a chick from Marlene (red sex-link) and Chico (silkie rooster). Chicks usually hatch in 21 days but the bantams and bantam crosses sometimes hatch in 19 days.

The black chick is Gracie's own, actually there are two black chicks in the picture, the second is pecking seeds behind the first. I was trying to show how much bigger Marlene's chick is compared to Gracie's chicks. Gracie's are half the size of Marlene's but twice as cute.

One of the black chicks looks like he is part penguin with his white front. The black chicks are black cochin bantam (Gracie) crossed with white silkie (Chico). Some countries call cochin bantams Pekins. The chicks were hatching while I was there but sadly I had to leave before all hatched. They are all hatched now including the three from the fridge, so it is true you can use eggs from the fridge as long as they have not been in there too long. Just don't try to put cold eggs under the hen, let them reach room temperature first.

Only one brown egg did not hatch but it had a full term chick inside. Gracie was a great little mom, with Dan's mistake of taking four to five days to place all the eggs under, the first chicks were hungry while the last had not hatch yet. She would take the chicks out to eat and then sit on the nest to keep the eggs warm while watching her brood. This must be why cochins are the best mothers, my other bantams from my teen years would have left the remaining eggs to chill and die. However once six out of the seven hatched Gracie left the nest, she had to with six hungry chicks peeping for food. The chick that was left in the egg was black so we realized it was probably Lucy's and not one of the red girls. One other problem that could have happened is sometimes when a very small rooster like Chico, mates with a large hen like Lucy, the chick dies inside the egg because it is a small chick trying to get out of a big egg. Usually I never have a problem with the reverse, a large rooster mating with a small hen never gave me problems.

Anyway I received my smile, I have chicks! Total 5 little black Gracie/Chicos and one little reddish white Marlene/Chico. I tried the trick of picking them up to see if they drop their legs as little hens are suppose to, and little roosters should lift their legs. The Marlene chick drops it's legs all the time and the all black Gracie chick does as well, so they should turn out to be girls. The little black with the white tummy sticks one leg up in the air so I guess that means it could be a rooster, we will see. Enjoy spring time in your hen houses people.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Dad.

Can a person already miss someone who has not even left yet? The final results for my Dad's tests came back and it is really bad. The doctors said there is nothing that can be done for my father. They will work on trying to keep him comfortable and not let him suffer. He came home to the farm and I hope he can stay there until the end, I don't want him to die in a hospital with tubes and wires all over him. It hurts so much to think he will not be around one day and sadly that day is coming soon.

Thank you so much for the kind comments. I don't want to bring any of you down, I just wanted to let you know what the results were. I think you will all understand if I don't post for quite some time.

I got to see the girls the other day, Dan is taking good care of them. I may move them to the farm but Dan said it was not a problem and likes caring for the chickens. I'm also thinking since I will be on the farm now for months taking things day by day, I may get some chicks to help keep the stress levels down. It is hard to always be dealing with cancer, hospitals and someone you love dying, day in and day out.