The eggs were in the incubator in lockdown mode. It was late on Sunday afternoon. Day 19 was drawing to a close. We arrived home to find that there was a powercut and I immediately ran to check the incubator. The temperature had dropped to 36degC. I rushed to get towels and wool blankets to cover the incubator in the hopes of keeping the heat in. 35degC. This is one of the many things I’ve read about before ever having to deal with them, one of the benefits of being part of online poultry groups. After covering the incubator I asked The Husband if he had anything we could run power to the incubator from. He was in the process of hooking something up with a battery when the power came back on. Whew! I don’t think the powercut could have lasted for too long but the incubator got down to 33degC. There was no knowing what this could mean for the hatching of the eggs. And this was not helpful in figuring out if I had gotten the lockdown settings sorted.
If I was checking the eggs a lot before, now I was even more fidgety. Were they all dead? Would only some of them hatch? Would only the tough Paris ones hatch? Peering through the incubator windows repeatedly brought me no answers. As Day 21 was approaching I was overjoyed to find that two eggs had pipped. Even better, one of them was Frodo’s sole egg. The Frodo egg was the first one to hatch, early the next morning, and it was a blue chick. Now, that was a heartwarming outcome. The next chick to hatch was a black Paris chick and another black Paris chick followed. The Little Fulla and I got to watch #3 hatch, which was nice. After a while, these three were quickly moved into the brooder box while we awaited further developments. At bedtime there were no signs of pips on any of the other eggs. Maybe that was it.
The next morning, I was greeted by the sight of two little chicks that had hatched overnight: a Tiggywinkle chick and the sole Jemima chick. Woohoo! I wasn’t entirely sure which was which, but their lives were more important than their identities at that point. For now, I’m assuming the blue one is Jemima’s (because she’s blue) and the black one is Tiggywinkle’s.
There were four eggs left in the incubator: two Tiggywinkle eggs and two Paris eggs. I was hoping I might found some more hatchlings the next morning, but I did not. Day 23 dragged on without any sign of a pip and then it was time to crack open the tops of the eggs to confirm that they were goners. I started with the Paris eggs. Two black chicks did not hatch. One looked like it had stalled around lockdown or the power cut point. Tiggywinkle’s first unhatched egg was another black chick that did not hatch. When I cracked open the top of the fourth egg I was surprised to find it still alive! Things were moving in there. I quickly sprayed it with some water to moisten it and put it back into the incubator. I wasn’t sure what to think.
I was not expecting to find an alive chick in there. It hadn’t pipped at all and the blood vessels hadn’t even receded. It’s like it was way behind. There wasn’t much I could do except wait and occasionally spray it with water. After some hours I carefully chipped away more bits of egg shell. I couldn’t see the chick’s beak. To cut a long story short, I left it overnight and found it dead the next morning. I wondered if I should have helped it more but the blood vessels hadn’t receded so I couldn’t break through the membrane without causing a bleed. It turned out the chick’s head was down the wrong end of the egg. Without even having pipped through the shell, that chick just wasn’t in a state to come out.
This is sad, but it’s the way things go sometimes. You win some, you lose some. It was some consolation that Mittens, one of the Dorkings, laid her first egg that same day. She was a chick that I helped, back when she was known as Paddlefoot. You win some, you lose some.
The five new chicks are doing well in their brooder. Except there aren’t five in there anymore. Once the older three were eating and drinking well and being quite active I decided to see if Frodo would accept one of the bigger Paris chicks into her brood of chicks, which are one week older. Now, I would not recommend anyone to do this with any old hen, but Frodo is basically a superhen. This is her seventh time raising babies and she does it well. I know her and she also trusts me with them and knows that I am there to help her.
I supervised the introduction well, offering chick food on my hand, from which Frodo and the chick ate as Frodo made her excited food discovery noises. She looked at it, she knew it was different but she accepted it. I supervised as it adjusted to the outside world on a nice sunny day. Soon it was pecking around, hanging out with the other chicks, who weren’t concerned at all. They haven’t started a pecking order yet. When I saw that things were going well I brought out the other Paris chick so they could be together. Paris chick 2 was a little more stunned at its new surroundings, but they both slipped in with the others after a while and learnt that Frodo is the big, warm mummy. And Frodo gets another gold star.
That leaves three chicks in the brooder, the Frodo chick, which is on par with the Paris chicks, and the slightly younger, smaller Jemima and Tiggywinkle chicks. I’m trying to decide whether to tag all of them and likewise give them to Frodo, tomorrow, or keep raising them in the brooder. It would be easier and less time-consuming if Frodo could look after all of them, but they would be safer raised in the brooder. Fourteen chicks would be a lot for Frodo, but she has raised a hatch of 14 before. The chicks will be more friendly if we raise them in the brooder, but it will be harder to integrate them when they’re older. Hmm…
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