Good morning! It’s been a weird few weeks, things have been a bit rough and rocky at home, hopefully things are improving now (fingers and toes crossed). Because of this, I just haven’t been able to get into blogging, and I’m missing it! So, on the advice of Sister V, I am going to post something random, and unrelated to nail polish. 😉 Here then, are some photos I’ve taken previously, and not really known where to post. Prepare for animal spam! (not the food in a can. No.)
Here is my goofy dog, April, smiling as she lounges around in her bed. Love her so much, she’s such a character. Even if she’s more of a giant cat than a dog, she’s my girl.
And… here is my cat, Sehkmet, just… doing cat things. We don’t get on. We pretend, but as it’s mutual, I don’t mind not liking her much. All the cats I’ve ever adored (well, they tend to act more like dogs, for one thing) they die young. Sekkie is over 6 now, and going strong, so yeah, go figure 😀
And a chick. Saying hello. I think I’ve posted this before, but I love this photo, so too bad 😉
And another chick, cute little thing!
Big Daddy Bruce… the sneakiest rooster I’ve ever met. I really like Bruce. But… I think we have to eat him. He’s given us over 100 chicks already, he attacks me if I go near the hens and chicks (and I’m not a coward, I’ll gently kick him off me if he tries, and that just means we get into a kicking/biting fight and I end up bleeding and really worried I’ll hurt him, on one hand, and looking for an axe on the other…). So, he’s only one year old, and already really aggressive. They get meaner with age. I don’t want to breed that into a line. And I don’t want to go through another Summer of Chicken Drama like this one, EVER AGAIN. Sorry Bruce. 😦
To get away from that, here is another chick! About 2 hours old, on a loaf of bread. Sweet little thing 🙂
And here’s a … thing…. I did. The background/foreground was an activity I did with my family, basically using alternative tools to apply paint to paper. Well, I used paper, they used canvas. Theirs looked great, mine was quite boring, so I added all the other bits to it – I wanted it to look like a little pool of water somewhere…
And close up of the fish. It’s just a photo I found, and cut out the painted bits to show it underneath. It was fun to do, anyway!
And, last but not least, a photo of seagulls on the beach at Napier.
Have a great day
This morning, I was fortunate enough to have another chick hatch while I was holding it. It’s always a special time, the beginning of life – and sadly with chicks, very often it’s the end of life too. Birthing is always the cusp between life and death, which is one reason it is so sacred, I think. However, I also thought I might be able to share it with you, as I was sitting reeeallly close to my camera. 😀
This is how it looked when I took it out of my incubator. It had made the air hole, and started to open the shell (this takes thousands of teeny pecks by the chick to do, they are incredibly strong animals). Sometimes they seem to peck a trapdoor, and they tend to be slow hatching. Ones that do the flip-top shell thing like this one did can arrive in a big hurry. Perfect!
Once the shell is mostly pecked through, the chick starts pushing up with it’s head, to lever the top off.
You can see it’s wing poking out here…
And now it’s made a big enough gap that it has a wing out, and it’s foot. MUCH more leverage this way. You can also see that in the shell, there’s not a lot of space left, and it grows for the last week or so with it’s head tucked under it’s wing.
Then, pop! Top comes off, and its head and neck start to straighten. It’s a really good idea to be as hands-off as possible. I do tend to pick mine up once they are at the flip-top stage, but only for a few reasons: my incubator has no humidity, I get around this by squirting the eggs a few times a day when I turn them. In the last 3 days before hatching the eggs need about 80% humidity to hatch, and I try to replicate this roughly by wrapping a warm wet tissue around the shell, but ONLY when the airhole is present, and I keep about 1/4 unwrapped to try not to change the tensile pressure of the shell. So, once it’s at the stage in the first photo, if I can I take off the tissue and hold it to keep it warm and humid. (plus, you know, baby!)
Another important point: chicks are designed to have to fight their way out of the egg. It’s hard to watch, but necessary. They have a complicated network of blood vessels, and the fighting to hatch closes these off. I have read of horror stories of people trying to help a chick hatch, only to pull off a piece of shell and have the chick bleed to death. Yuck. Poor chick, poor people. You can see a vessel here, on the chicks back. This was severed by it wiggling while in my hand, and obviously a shut down one, anyway. Hard as it is to watch, let them be. 🙂
Then, out of the bottom of the shell with one big kick, and there it is, in my hand. Hello, chick!
(Important! I didn’t have my hand open for the duration, keeping birds warm is VITAL. I was being an honarary hen, and keeping it in the warm and dark of my cupped hands until I took a quick photo.)
Back in the incubator to fluff up and warm up a bit more… which also makes them look cuter 😀
And after 20 mins or so… it’s silver! This is my first silver chick – not sure of it’s parentage, dad is Blue Orpington, mum may be Light Sussex, but I’m not completely sure.
Then, my patented ‘being a mother hen and still having a life’ trick – I tuck the end of a bandana down my top, and fold the rest up and over the chick. So chick is now tucked up against the skin of my throat, warm and dark, and I can use both hands.
I make sure there is plenty of air for the chick though!
And then, once I’ve carted it around for a few hours it’s cute, strong, fluffy, steady on it’s legs and ready to go under the heat lamp in the box with my other chicks that have no mother hen. Of which I have 12 now. Holy Moly. *quiet panic attack*
Have a lovely day
So, Spring has sprung with a noise somewhat like SPRRROOIIIINGGG…cheep!
Feral hatched her six eggs with no help required, as per my earlier post here, and has kept them all alive and happy. She’s a legend. Brave (the chicken who used to sit on my head when I went out to feed them) did similar, but with eight chicks.
Now they all hang out together, and there is a fluffy river of chicks in the yard.
Then the fun started in earnest – with somewhere between 4 and 8 chickens deciding to go broody in the shed, pinch each others eggs, steal new eggs that were being laid, abandon newly hatched chicks… argh. I ended up implementing a ‘first to hatch a chick and be an actual mother gets ALL the chicks for awhile’ policy, which (touch wood) is working: We now have Buffy (a Buff Orpington cross, NOT for the vampire slayer) with 5 chicks, and Jet (my huge black and brown Orpy) now with 8.
These vary in age, because some of the chicks were abandoned by their stoopid broody mothers and there was no adoptive parent available at the time, so I’ve also had various numbers of chicks inside under lamps.
Luckily, since the first one, Cornelius, I havent had to sleep beside any and pat them all night to keep them happy. He had a semi-hernia, but he survived. I also found two so close to frozen that I thought they were dead, but once I noticed they had a slight pulse I tucked them up against me until they warmed to body temp and started moving, then put them under the lamps, and they’ve both made it. YAY!
Note on the strange naming system: I name my birds by the year they hatch, now. All chicks bought/born last year have names starting with B, they were my second year birds. This year they have to start with C. Let me tell you, that leads to temptation when you’re a potty mouth like me, and they’re peeping in the middle of the night 😀
Have a great day!
This is Feral – a hen I bought, with her 10 chicks, early this year. Well, she’s a ferocious brooder and an awesome mother hen, so I thought I’d be able to sneak some cool eggs under her this year. Beat me to it, didnt’ she – disappeared very early and yesterday popped out with these cuties!
6 in total – the dad is probably the half-Hamburg we ate a month or so ago (he was a meanie to the girls! So he went…). Ah well, his genes survive. And in a -for now anyway – much cuter form.
Welcome to the world, little peeps!