Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thirty Went In, How Many Came Out

I believe this is the 7th year I've hatched chicks in room 15. This was by far the most unnerving year, though it's always a bit unnerving.
Remember, I paid big bucks for rare eggs. I also added six of my own for insurance. First, next day postage was above and beyond what I was willing to fork over. Secondly, you want to get them in the brooder ASAP, but you have to turn them big end up for 12 hours so the air bubbles will all settle at the big end to make an air pocket prior to brooder placement. That of course all occurred the same day Gideon decided to make his appearance. So, Handy Man had to come to hospital, retrieve the keys, trudge over to school and settle them properly. You have to maintain a steady temp to grow a chick and we only had about three storms a day for the entire 21 days, producing not only loud thunder and lightening, but power outages. Thank the Lord, not at school. Lastly, if there is a chick in there and the temp and humidity are right, etc, etc, they still have to get out!
Never underestimate a praying child. My students hoped for at least nine, and prayed for them all 21 days.
I purchased six Ameracauna eggs, six Black Copper Maran eggs and twelve of the company's pick of rare eggs, cause that was the cheapest route.
I had hoped to get one BCM rooster and all the rest hens, cause I had a friend willing to take some them so then I could continue to hatch eggs of known origin.
Last Monday, I saw one Amercauna egg and two BCM rocking. I don't remember having ever noticed that before. By Monday evening we were hearing some peeping.
Remember that air pocket? Well the chicks first breakthrough to the air pocket so they can breathe and that allows them to start peeping.
I came in Tuesday morning to find a chick, not from a rocking egg, but one I never saw move, the first Ameracauna. Another of the same was pipping and broke out in front of the round, astonished eyes of my students. By the time I left, two more were pipping. The next morning we had two more chicks, but nothing was happening when I left at six. I was thankful there would at least be four, but I was disappointed overall. Those four were some expensive chickie girls (except two were already acting really cocky).
I came back at nine to check on them and five more were pipping.

We watched all day with bated breath. By day's end we had seven chicks altogether, two working hard on their shells and one that didn't make it.
There's a lot of controversy over whether or not it's a good idea to help a chick hatch. Some say, "No, it's mother nature's way." Others believe a chick, like a baby, can just be turned wrong and need some help. The blood circulation to the chick flows through the inner most membrane There is yet another membrane beyond that, then the shell. First, with an egg tooth that later falls off, it pips through to the air bubble, then through that first membrane. This sends a signal to stop the blood flow. If you aren't very careful when you help with the hatching, the chick could bleed to death. This type of stuff, while fascinating, makes me a bit weak in the knees to play a part in the bleeding to death scenario.
So, I return at 9 again and those two chicks still aren't out, but have made enough headway, that clearly there's no blood flow, so I did a few chips for them. I didn't want to risk them not making it like the one earlier in the day. Soon, they were out and doing well.
I was still very troubled by that one big chocolate brown BCM egg that I knew I saw moving. Finally, I decided I would try a to make a tiny chip in the large end, cause obviously, she wasn't coming. I did and it bled, so I immediately stopped. I was sad, cause I knew it had indeed held a chick that was alive and well on Monday.
That was at nine pm and when I came in on Friday morning, there she was, already hatched out.
Maybe the naysayers are right, she was fine on Friday, having trouble breathing on Saturday, and gone on Sunday. Somehow, I had to try. She was the sweetest little thing.
So, the end result, nine living chickies. My students are thrilled with their babies, that are named such things as JJ, Holly, Double Trouble and I forget the others.
Best of all, we have two hobbit chickens-be still my heart, with wee furry feet!
Now it will be interesting to see if the two I think are roosters, are indeed cock a doodle doos and the rest hens.
Speaking of roosters, either mine have gotten old and lazy, or my girls have improved their escape techniques, because not a one of my eggs hatched.
I ended up with four Black Copper Marans ( two of the feathered feet kind), three Ameracuanas (that lay blue eggs), and two that look like chipmunks with a name I'm not even sure how to pronounce-Penedesenca.
So that is the rare egg story!


  1. Poultry drama. I read with bated breath.

  2. What a wonderful experience for your students! I'm glad that you had a successful hatch.

  3. You are an amazing teacher and every one of your students is lucky to have you. Keep up the great work.