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The Miracle of [Feathered] Life & Electricity

December 1, 2015

If you read my Very Long Post About Chickens, thanks.  If you didn’t, the only part you need to know is this: a chicken died after laying a clutch of eleven eggs and sitting on them for 24 hours, rendering them inedible.  So I attempted (or am attempting) a little homemade brooder to hatch eggs.

If you read on the internet about hatching eggs at home, it can quickly becoming overwhelming, so I read a little of this and that, but mostly I decided that God designed eggs and chicks just sturdy enough that even a chicken can do it.  I put together a shoebox, a 40w lightbulb from an IKEA lamp, a washcloth with some ice cubes, replacing them every few hours, for humidity, and a meat thermometer to watch the temp and said…good enough!

Brooder with the seven eggs that made it the full three weeks (three were deemed rotten).

Brooder with the seven eggs that made it the full three weeks (three were deemed rotten).

Meanwhile, three weeks went by, with the occasional power outage but nothing too much.  Finally, it was a few days before hatching.  And we began to loose power at night.  Someone’s power line was overheating the whole street.  It would come back in the morning because someone could monitor it, but of course my eggs!  I didn’t experiment only to have them die now!

The day they were “due” to hatch I waited, but I knew, from reading a bit, that cooler temperatures could delay the hatching.  Sure enough, that night, one began by making a little poke in the shell (called a pip).  Yay!

IMG_4238

This is a pip – the first external sign that the hatching process has begun!

And then it sat like that for 24 hours.  I read this is normal.  Then the power just to our outlets went out.  We found one outlet on a different phase – in the bathroom – and moved the little brooder into the bathroom and went to bed.  Matthew was not feeling well and wasn’t sleeping well, so I wasn’t either.  He informed me that the chicken was starting to hatch.  It was 4am on Sunday.

I went to have a look through a hole in the shoebox…and the rest of the power went out.  Nooooo!  A chicken who has hatched must have heat to dry off or else they die!  Matthew turned on the generator (yes, for the chicken) and it finally emerged.

The first hatched!

The first hatched!

The rest of Sunday produced two more miracle chicks.  A fourth died Monday morning, after hatching.  All of this and we had very little power.  One phase worked for a while on Sunday and on and off on Monday.  I got creative with my heat source and used a heated cast iron skillet, with some hot pads for layering, to heat the box.

This lasted about two minutes...the older two got bored and the youngest wanted to squeeze the fluffy chicken.

This lasted about two minutes…the older two got bored and the youngest wanted to squeeze the fluffy chicken.

The second one hatched just moments ago (I cleared the shell away to make the picture a little less graphic, but you can see bits of shell on its back).

The second one hatched just moments ago (I cleared the shell away to make the picture a little less graphic, but you can see bits of shell on its back).

Three fluffy balls of cuteness!

Three fluffy balls of cuteness!

It really is amazing that those chicks survived at all – but they are adorable and, even after 48 hours, seem healthy and active, doing all of things that little chicks do.  They’ve had some adventures, like meeting our kitten.  Or, like the kids and I taking them outside for feeding time with the rest of the hungry chickens.

Éclair the kitten meets her new friends.  This also lasted about two minutes until she realized what fun toys these could be.

Éclair the kitten meets her new friends. This also lasted about two minutes until she realized what fun toys these could be.

There are still three eggs and a slim chance that they could hatch, so they sit under the lamp in the box.  Today we were without power since the middle of the night.  It was miserably hot.  However, the one phase that was left finally gave up and died (because we all used it for our whole houses) so they fixed it today.  As in, they fixed the whole problem!  Yay!

I am grateful for neighbors who came to my rescue (Matthew is currently out of town – yay for single parenting!), power and air conditioning for the first time since Saturday, and the three little puff balls that will either make tasty eggs or tasty dinners someday.

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