Saturday, October 29, 2011

Slip-Sliding Away

I fell down twice today while doing critter chores. I'm in my mid-30's, if I haven't outgrown my clumsiness yet, I think it's safe to consider myself officially, permanently gravitationally-challenged. Maybe my next move is to take preventative measures like wearing a helmet at all times, or sewing a hemorrhoid donut pillow into my chore pants?

All I know right now is this - two wipeouts in the mud and all of the animals tucked in for the night means that pajama/cocktail hour has arrived and that soon, all shall be right with the world again. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Los Bebés

These little fuzzles are now about 4 days old. Most of these pics were taken on days #2 & 3. We ended up with 27 chicks, 10 of whom (by Livy's count) are "naked necks" - potenial frizzled polish-naked neck crosses. :)

A black Australorp chick. These little babies are as hardy as the day is long!

A wider shot of the gang of peepers.

I want to name this bird Liza Minnelli so bad. Seriously - do you see the resemblance too or have I been spending WAY TOO MUCH time around chickens?

Livydoo & "Liza" :)

Mixing two funny looking breeds to make a new and different funny looking breed is pure bird-nerd nirvana. Behold our first Fall hatch of babies, the Americauna/White-crested Black Frizzled Polish crosses -

This little frizzled dude reminds me of what a crow/stellar's jay cross might look like.

I am IN LOVE with this girl's wacky crest. It reminds me of a peahen or a quail of some sort, maybe? I dunno, but I do think she's durn fancy!

The heap o'babies. Suddenly, they are camera-shy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicken & Egg Trivia

On the eve of yet another, possibly our biggest ever, hatch of baby chicks, I find myself so wound up by the whole process that I have made the executive decision to fly my geek flag and fling some baby chicken trivia your way. Enjoy! ;)

*Chicks start to peep before they even hatch!

Mine have just begun doing so, with less than 24 hours to go in their gestation.

*Hatchlings do not need to eat or drink for as many as 2-3 days after hatching.

The yolk that fueled their development within the egg continues to provide the baby with sustenance until the babes learn to find and consume food and water, with the help of their Mama.

We never wait that long. They get food and water just as soon as they make the move from the incubator to the brooder.

*Baby chickens (and turkeys too) need to be taught how to drink.

The babies are born with a particular attraction to "shiny" things, which helps them seek out water. However, a Mama bird or surrogate Mama like me needs to actually show them how to dip to get a beak full of water, then extend their neck up and back to let the water run down their throat. They don't so much gulp liquid as they do scoop it and "knock it back". ;)

*The nearness of voices (chicken or human) encourage a chick to hatch.

The babies, if sat upon by their Mama hen, would have been listening for her clucks and bocks, as well as those of their fellow nestmates, as a sort of "all's well" sign that encourages them to hatch. In the case of my babies, since they've been hearing human voices for the past three weeks, will go from dead silent to a peeping frenzy upon hearing my greeting - even while still in the egg!

This is also one of the reasons that we leave the hatched babies in the incubator alongside the unhatched eggs for about 24 hours. All eggs that are going to hatch, should do so within that period, and the encouraging peeps of their siblings, as well as the occasional helpful peck, improve the hatch rate of a given clutch, in my experience.