Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Well that was embarrassing!

I have a child who has asthma and allergies.

She had a regularly scheduled appointment with her allergist. The appointment was going smoothly, nothing interesting to report.

Then, the question happened. It was a reasonable enough question, given that we were there to discuss her allergies, and her environment was an important aspect to discuss. However, it exposed me for the crazy chicken lady that I am.

"So," the doctor says casually, "What indoor pets do you have?"

"Ummmm, we have a couple of cockatiels" I begin, as I start to blush.

"We also have a bunch of chickens!" My son piped up helpfully.

"In the HOUSE?!" The doctor replied, somewhat astonished.

"Well, they're just bitty chicks, it's too cold for them to go outside."

"But we're getting five more in a few days," my daughter adds.

"So, how many chickens are in your house?"

"After these new ones hatch, 10. But this isn't normal- I swear that keeping chickens in the house isn't a normal thing," I try to clarify.

The doctor just looked a little bewildered and changed the subject.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

3 weeks old!!

My chicks are now 3 weeks old.  I decided to weigh them, and took a couple pictures, though not really awesome ones.

Here's the weight statistics:

1- Godzilla 5 1/4 oz.  Still think she's a girl.

3- Dawn/Don 6 3/4 oz. Originally predicted girl, but I think I see red waddles coming in, so leaning more towards boy.

4- Charlie 7 1/4 oz Still think boy

5- Hulksmash Jr (My 6 year old was devastated over the loss of Hulksmash, and wanted to name this chick in honor of her) 7 oz. Still leaning towards boy on this one.

6- Daisy 7 3/8 Even though the biggest, I'm still leaning towards girl, but not nearly as certain. There's slight waddles forming, but they are not red at all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Digs for the Velociraptors

The chicks are 2.5 weeks now, and are getting HUGE.  I think they've outgrown the fish tank I had them in.

I bought a 45 gallon rubbermaid tote, and this morning moved them into that. So far, they've been thrilled.

Later today I plan to cut the lid out and add some chicken wire so that they can't jump out- I know that will be coming very soon. They kept trying to jump out of the fish tank (actually, it was a reptile tank, so it had a mesh screen over the top), and bumping their heads. This is almost twice as deep, but I bet they could hop out within a couple days.

So far, the two chicks I pegged as roosters are looking even more like roosters. There's a third that I had put down as a pullet. It has a pea comb, but it's looking kind of red, so I'm wondering if I was wrong on that one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 9- BLRW

Hatching eggs when I have chicks around is much easier. I don't obsess nearly as much, and they're not getting candled anywhere near as often.

Last I'd checked, Navy hadn't developed, but all the others were wiggling around and I thought I'd want to double check on it today when I was adding water.

Navy is still clear. I'll probably toss it today.  I candled Sky, who was right next to it, and it had died too, which was sad. I'd seen Sky wiggling around last time I candled, so that was disappointing too. I should probably toss both now, so that if there is some bacteria, it doesn't spread to the rest.

The other five were all wriggling around, and they're already getting big.

This time, it's a bit like expecting a second child, but very close to the first time. Today I had the idea hit home that in two weeks, I will have 10+/- chickens IN MY HOUSE. With temps in the 20s, there's no way I can have any outside right now. So, all of the "baby gear" will still be in use when I need it again.

I plan to put the older chicks in a big rubbermaid tote in the basement with a good light. Then, the fish tank will be ready for the next batch. I think I'll have to buy a second tote for them though- I don't think the bigger chicks will be ready to go outside til mid-late March. I don't know, we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

RIP Hulksmash

Today marks day 14 and 15 of our chicks lives.

I have spent hours a day on physical therapy for Hulksmash, and not only was I not seeing improvement, but she was actually getting worse.

This morning, I slept in, and my husband decided to retape her leg and do physical therapy with her. He realized that her leg wouldn't even turn back to the right positioning. She also wouldn't walk around at all. Up until today, the other chicks were pretty kind to her, and would cuddle up against her, even though she was about half their size. Today they started pecking at her.

Anyway, he felt strongly that the kindest thing to do was to euthanize her. I've been thinking the same thing, so even though I was heartbroken, I agreed.

Now, how to cull a chick humanely? I didn't want to traumatize her, as she was my favorite chick. Many people suggested beheading with a sharp pair of scissors, but there was NO WAY I could do that.

This website had a method that sounded pretty easy and humane. Warning, there is a picture of a euthanized chick on the website. We ended up doing that method together, and it was as easy and quick as promised. My husband buried her with our chickens that we lost last fall.

I am so sad that I had to do it. I mourn her loss. She was my favorite, and she was so beautiful. However, she was suffering, and I really do feel that it was a kindness.  Considering I don't even squish spiders (unless they're poisonous), that is saying something.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Webcam address

I just discovered that Ustream is as easy to do as the website I was using for my webcam before, with one huge (for me) difference: It would let me see how many active viewers I have at any one time. I was really curious if people were actually still watching or not, so I like the idea of this.

So, if you happened to be watching my chick cam, here's the new address:


Friday, January 20, 2012

Candling Eggs- day 5

I put fresh batteries in the flashlight and candled the eggs today.  I figure we're early on day 5.

All but Navy had clear veining, and I could see the little chick with it's eye in the middle. Navy looked like it may come along later, so I'm not going to toss it til day 10 or so, but so far, it doesn't look good for it.

Otherwise, I'm pretty tickled. Some were easier to see and pick out than others, and seemed a tiny bit more developed, but 6 of the 7 looked fantastic.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Set more eggs

I found a fantastic local deal on hatching eggs- Blue Laced Red Wyandotte eggs for $1 each.  I couldn't resist and bought 7. They were all laid yesterday or today, so very fresh!

I set them in the incubator this evening. For fun, instead of numbering or lettering them, I decided to name them.

My Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Eggs
In other news, my other chicks are growing up so fast I can hardly believe it. I thought human children grew up quickly, but they're nothing compared to chickens!

Hulksmash is not responding as well to physical therapy as I'd hoped. I'm starting to feel very pessimistic about her chances of a full recovery. I'm continuing to work with her- gently pulling her leg to proper position and holding it there, while making her stand with more weight on that leg.

Chick #4 showing off his/her wing feathers
With the chicks feathering in, I'm seeing some very interesting patterns. The colors of five of the chicks all seem right for a golden laced wyandotte. The lacing isn't there yet, but I remember my silver laced wyandotte's lacing being very messy and mottled for a couple of months. So, maybe those chicks are all golden laced wyandottes after all, even they seemed a bit light for it at hatch.

Godzilla and her unique lacing.
Godzilla's feather patterns seem really unique to me. The lacing is perfect, gorgeous even. However, the colors are nothing like I've ever seen before. I can hardly wait to see how she turns out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chicken Physical Therapy?

I never thought I'd be doing this, never knew it existed, and never guessed I'd be admitting to doing it.

However, Hulksmash's leg has not improved. I asked for advice on my chicken board, and I have gotten some great pointers from a gal there. She gave me the following website that she made that covers a lot of common podiatry issues in chickens. POULTRYPEDIA

She suggested that Hulksmash's hobble needed to have something stiff in the middle to keep the hock (that upper leg joint) out- I'm afraid that my rubber band "cure" actually made things worse. :(

Now, she's told me to do the physical therapy on the chick to help strengthen her leg. I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. Frankly, I'm extremely worried because this is my favorite chick, and I really want her to be healthy.

Hulksmash with her new and improved hobble brace

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spraddle Leg

I believe that Hulksmash has a minor case of spraddle leg. Spraddle leg is usually pretty severe- the chick looks like it's doing splits all the time. It seems her left leg is only slightly weak. If she's in the tank with the shavings, she runs around ok, but I've noticed it does seem to slide out a little bit.

I took her out to take a picture, and try to diagnose it for sure, and it definitely splayed out on a smooth surface. Since it didn't seem to be as severe as the cases I found on the internet, I tried to do the coffee cup cure. Basically, you put the chick in a coffee cup, and the narrow bottom keeps the chick's legs closer together. It was supposed to be a gentler way to fix it. However, she was able to hop out of the cup within a couple minutes. I suspect her nestmates were making fun of her.

So, I've now decided to do the bandaid cure, which is where you cut a bandaid lengthwise. Wrap each sticky end around the chick, leaving the pad in the middle.  I just wrapped her up in, what else? A Hulk bandaid!

I suspect she's wishing she'd stuck with the coffee cup.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Final Hatch Count

We had a total of SIX healthy chicks hatch.  Unfortunately, chick #3, the one I heard chirping a few days ago, died in the shell. I took a picture of it, and have it posted HERE if you want to see.

I tried feather sexing today- basically, you pull the wing back, and look to see if there's one row of feathers, all even, or if there's a shorter row, making two rows. My gender predictions are based on that.  Here's a picture I took of Godzilla's feathers. Note how there seems to be two rows of pins (the straw things that come just before feathers). Also note how dark those pins are!

I now announce, in order of hatch, our new chicks.

Chick #1- Godzilla

Chick #1 we named Godzilla. My prediction is she's a pullet. We named her Godzilla because she was stomping all over the other chicks.


Chick #2 is named HULKSMASH. I think she is also a pullet. We named her that because she didn't want to zip around the egg as much as she was supposed to. She kept trying to push her way out without properly zipping. After about 26 hours of struggle, I finally helped her out a little.

Chick #3

Chick 3 is as yet unnamed. I think it's another pullet. She was hatched around 2:30 on Sunday. She has chipmunk markings, but it's not as dramatic because the other fuzz has a brownish undertone instead of a bright yellow.

Chick #4

Chick 4 is also unnamed. I suspect it's a cockerel. He's already trying to boss everyone around. He has the most distinctive chipmunk markings and is so beautiful because of the contrast of the pale yellow and brown striping.

Chick #5

Chick #5 came next, and is also still unnamed. I think he's a cockerel. I think he most closely resembles what a Golden Laced Wyandotte chick is supposed to look like.

Chick #6

Chick #6 came last. It was also marked Egg #6, so that's some fun symmetry.  My 6 year daughter has taken a special interest in this chick and has named her Daisy. Good thing my prediction is pullet. The legs seem awfully big, but there's already wing development at 25 hours old, and she has the two rows of feather pins.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

FIVE have hatched!

After the first two hatched yesterday, I went to bed, figuring nothing would happen til morning. I woke up around 2:25am with a migraine. I decided to go check on the eggs, and found that the third chick was just about out. I watched it hatch, and I think it was the cutest yest- chipmunk stripes!

Between 10am and 10:15, we had two more hatch- another chipmunk and another mostly black.

The 6th egg is working, but is probably a few hours away.  Sadly, the 7th chick, egg #3 that gave me so much hope on Thursday, seems to be quiet. I removed the three fluffed up chicks from the incubator (in a steamy bathroom, so I didn't mess with the humidity for the others), and I picked up egg #3 to listen. All was quiet inside. That one was special to me, so I'm a little sad if it doesn't hatch.

On the other hand, having eggs shipped 2000 miles, in winter, during the busiest post office week of the year is quite a journey. Most of the chicks had weird air cells, so to get even 5 is amazing. I don't want to count chickens before they hatch, but I really think chick #6 (both in egg AND hatch number) is going to make it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Godzilla (who will probably be called Zilla), the first chick to hatch. Silly bird hatched through the narrow end of the egg, missing the air cell altogether.

Godzilla, just after hatching

And HULKSMASH!  Hulksmash didn't want to hatch in the ordinary way either. Although he/she pipped about the same time as Godzilla- around 6pm on day 20, she didn't zip the way a chick ought to. She zipped about 1/2", and then kept trying to kick her way out. After it had been about 26 hours, and I could tell she was tiring, I peeled away a bit of the egg, and with a huge kick, she popped out of the egg into my hand.

Four of the five remaining eggs have pipped, and did so around midafternoon on day 21.  The last egg hasn't done anything yet.  It is Egg #3, the one that I took out yesterday and heard chirping.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 20

Chicks went into lockdown yesterday. I was a little confused, because it seems like many people put their eggs in lockdown on day 18. But my Brinsea doesn't stop turning until the beginning of day 19. And when you actually count day 21 as a day, that would make for a three day lockdown. So, I went with manufacturer instructions and didn't bump up the humidity until it quit turning. The instructions also say to take out the turning plate, and suggest kitchen fabric or something else for the bottom of the tray.

Brinsea with my hatching felt floor
I used some leftover felt to make a soft cover for the bottom. I thought the hard plastic would be hard for them to get their footing. I wanted to use white or dark green, but the only colors I had in the right quantities were yellow and red. I've heard red can be upsetting to chickens (looks like blood), so I went with yellow. I have to admit it makes it look like it was designed for the Brinsea.

I've been trying not to fret.  I feel much more optimistic this time around. I even bought a 25 lb bag of chick starter crumbles (medicated, because that's all they had in the 25 lb size) yesterday.

Today I started panicking again because I couldn't see any rocking, and there are no pips just yet. I decided that I would take egg #3 out of the incubator and go candle it. Yes, I realize this completely goes against the rules of lockdown. I couldn't help it.

So, I took it out (after sanitizing my hands) and started to carry it to the dark place in the house. I realize pretty quickly that I can hear it CHIRPING!!! Well. That beats the heck out of candling to know if it's alive or not. I let my four year old hear it chirp (I had to chirp to it so it would chirp back), and then stuck it back in the incubator.

I swear I won't open it again til a chick is hatched (and probably not even then if there's another pip). I hope they all hatch easily on their own.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I know that this is a wee bit dorky/extreme/OCD, but I have set up a web came so that hopefully other people can watch the chicks hatch.

I don't plan to broadcast beyond testing until the chicks begin to pip.  Because light quality is so poor at night, keep your fingers crossed they hatch in the daytime.

It seems like the link just does a still image of the incubator, and isn't actually live. Just in case, here is a LINK to the webcam.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 16

I've been really great at leaving the eggs alone since my last post.

I decided to do one last check. Well, second to last check. I may do a check just before lockdown, on day 18. Who knows. I had watched someone else's candling video whose eggs were 15 days along, and you could see movement. I was curious if I could see movement in mine.

I candled all 7 eggs today. All seven looked about the same in development, and looked exactly on schedule. Most looked like the air cells were still wonky. I saw absolutely definable movement in eggs 1, 2, 3, 6, 7. Pretty sure I saw movement in eggs 4 and 5, but it wasn't as dramatic and noticeable.