I’ve kind of only been giving you bits and pieces here and there about all that has been going on around the farm with hatching eggs. First of all, I’ll tell you that in last week’s incubator hatch, we only got one more chick, for a total of four.
That was thanks to the Dadz, who rescued her from her shell! They always tell you that you shouldn’t mess around with the hatching, to simply let nature takes its course. This egg had pipped (broken through the shell), but then nothing further was happening after many hours. We had given her up for dead and decided to get the egg out of the incubator. When my hubby removed it, he heard chirping!! I was kind of freaking out, not knowing what to do, but he was insistent on helping her and in the end he worked to break her free of the shell and I helped with getting off the sac inside which was stuck to her. I still had my doubts that she would make it, but by the next day we were tucking her in with Mama and her three siblings! (she is the dark one in the photos)
That was the other part of the story….observant readers might have noticed that the Mama that is raising the chicks is not the same Mama I originally had told you had tried to hatch eggs and failed (you can read that story by clicking here). In the end, we decided that in the best interests of her health, we weren’t going to let Blanche continue to try and sit in the nest on any eggs. We removed the eggs daily, while still hoping she might stay a little broody, but she finally gave up.
At that time, we noticed our Black Australorp, Bella, was constantly hiding up in the rafters of the barn. We had to take her down at night! She had been broody the previous year, so we knew she was a candidate. We let her stay in the rafters (why she would think that was a good place to lay and hatch eggs, I have no idea!) during the day and even overnight if we were going to be home to watch for her coming down the next morning. If we had to work the next morning, we’d put her in the coop at night. With about 2-3 days to go before hatching, we put her in the dog crate inside the coop with some dummy eggs at night in the hopes she’d continue sitting.
When the chicks hatched and had a little time to decompress, the Dadz brought them out to her, and she instantly took to being a Mama! She seems quite happy and it is so fun to watch her interacting with the chicks and listening to all the noises she makes with them. She is VERY protective of them too, so we hope to soon leave the crate open so they can all come and go somewhat (chicks will not be allowed outside of the coop and run though). I’m a little nervous about that but most things we read said it was fine. We don’t want Bella to have to be stuck inside a crate all day when we’re at work, so that’s the next plan.
By the way, it has been difficult to get good photos of the chicks because Mama protects them from me, and they are a bit shy as well. In the end, I did get some better ones once we had them out in the coop moving around (after nesting time so the other birds were all outdoors).
We have been researching and wracking our brains trying to figure out why we had such a low hatch rate (40% on the chickens, 0 on the guinea fowl), and all we can do is make our best guesses. We believe that the age of our male guinea hen (3) may be a factor in the fertility of those eggs. So now we plan to just buy more guinea keets next spring. I’d been kind of wanting some different colored ones anyway. Guineas mate for life, so the younger Mama (she is 2) is not going to leave Pumpkin Pied for a younger, more fertile guy, even if we’d like her to!
We finally found their next nest, but we will use any further eggs this year for eating or selling. The chicken eggs we’re not as sure about but it may have been because of fluctuations in the incubator temperature and humidity. We need to make 100% sure that’s working properly (there is a chance the eggs weren’t being automatically turned like they were supposed to be) and then we are going to try again. We will monitor things more carefully this time around and must accept the fact that we probably won’t get another Mama to raise them. It will be a little more work, but we will at least be able to have them in a cage out in the coop, instead of in the house as we’ve done in the past.
That’s the fun around the farm! Honestly, it’s been tough for me not being home as much and not being able to watch things as closely. The Dadz is getting training though and doing well at handling all the things I used to do (mostly!). The only thing I still don’t have him trained as well on is finding the guinea nest! I’ve done that both times when I’ve been home on my day off. I also had to send him hunting for a hidden chicken nest in the barn the other night; and he found one with over a dozen eggs in it! So now he’s learned that too, when I got home one day and we had only collected 6 eggs, I knew something was up. He just needs to become more aware of keeping an eye on what all those crazy birds are up to! 😊
Thanks to our friends The LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday blog hop. Please visit them and other blogs through the links below!
Melissa Clinton says
There cheers or cheeps for Dad! That is so COOL! I love that guineas mate for life.
It is pretty cool that they do, isn’t it?
JoAnn Stancer says
Love the last photo! Beautiful!!!
Kim - Life at Golden Pines says
I really love this post and how you’ve made Bella a mother hen! 🙂 Good vibes sent in your direction that this new little family continues to thrive and grow!
Thank you! So far, they continue to do well. Bella is such a good Mama!
I love how the Dadz saved that fourth chick! That is such a sweet story.
He’s the best! ♥
Mama is gorgeous. I had no idea raising chicks was so much work.
I hope some day we get it all figured out and it gets easier! 🙂
You don’t get in sync with bird-think overnight, so Dadz might need more time. I’m so happy to hear that he helped the dark chick escape her shell. Sometimes, nature can use a bit of help. Being born is difficult work!
And I guess if he figured that out – how to save the chick – he’ll definitely catch on to the rest soon! 🙂
Life-saving skills are a terrific start. I once gave CPR to a newborn guinea pig (saved!) so I know that it’s mainly instinct – no one teaches you that! What a sweet man that he didn’t just blow off the little life….Awww.
I got lucky to find such a good guy. ♥
Oh I really like the nature friday blog hop!
It’s a fun one!
Ellen Pilch says
Such a good mama. I am glad you and your hubby were able to save chick #4.
Me too! She is really thriving. ♥
The Island Cats says
Aw, the baby chicks are so cute. We hope these little ones flourish.
So far, so good, and they are growing already! We can see different colors in their wings.
Ducky's Mom says
Oh gosh, that pic of the chick on Mama’s back is just too dang cute!!!! I’m sure you’ll have the Dadz up to snuff in no time!! Kudos to both of you for rescuing the one chick from the shell!
I guess farming is a constant learning process, and I’m sure he’ll catch up soon. 🙂
LLB in Our Backyard says
We always love hearing your chick adventures. Adorable pictures!
It seems the adventures never end, so I’m glad you enjoy them! 🙂
Tails Around the Ranch says
How much fun is the hatching process? Bravo to you guys for your efforts. Love the image of the chick on mama’s back! Happy weekend.
Hatching has been one of the best parts of chicken keeping (other than the fresh eggs)!
Brian Frum says
That’s really interesting and that substitute Mama is really pretty special.
She’s a very good girl! ♥
Susanfrom Bucks County PA says
The phiotos made me smile – the third one is my favorite.
That was my favorite too!
Learning all the ins and outs is key. I don’t have a clue because my mom did all this work with the chickens. You’ll figure it out and I’m sure you’ll have hubby up to speed in no time.
Have a fabulous day and weekend. Smooches to Luke. ♥
Yes, it just takes time, and some trial and error too I think. The learning process is fun anyway, and we don’t give up easily!
we hope for 40 or more next time.. but your fab four are super cute…
We’re going to try one more time, so we’ll see what happens!
Bummer more didn’t hatch, but it is a learning process and next time hopefully will be more successful. The four you have are so cute.
We still haven’t figured out exactly what went wrong, but we’re going to give it one more shot this summer! The incubator just got fired up again. 🙂
We are so happy that the last chick made it and how cute is that photo of a chick on Mama’s back!
Your Mama hen is so delightful and attentive!!
Hope the chicks (who are so CUTE) do well.
Sorry your brooding efforts were so disappointing.
This farming stuff seems to have its ups and downs! We’ll just focus on the ups. 🙂