Saturday 30 July 2011

Not 1, not 2, 3, or 4....

Up at five this morning. Troddled over to the house from the caravan. Half light. All still asleep. Not me, though. Busy day ahead. Two large straw bales being delivered from a farmer friend, who also traded one of his brown and white rabbits for one of our white and grey ones, is saving two geese for us, has promised to donate some grape vines later on and is also going to help Hubs get some maize planted next year. These bales are going into the Tall Barn so need to make space for them. Also, the escapee ewe did another escape yesterday so it is full steam ahead to get the fence sorted out, so lots of bramble cutting and fencing to be done. Also, the blackberries are starting to plumpen up, more so this year because of the recent rain, so will pick them to do something with.

So: up early to get a head start on the day. Straight onto the PC. Need to catch up with emails, and need to keep on working on my 'work' website. Heard a banging sound. Disregarded it.

Often noises here. Bits falling off the walls as they continue to dry out. Birds having a jolly in the guttering, or showing off on top of the roof, sometimes coming in through the gaps in the wall to have a look-see which was happening a lot last year but not so much this year. I think they have got used to the house no longer being part of their territory.

And then there are the rats which were frequent visitors last year, but not at the moment. Having the floor of the Middle Barn done must have pushed them further away from the house, although there is still the population entrenched in the wood pile. But there has been a cat with kittens in residence in the wood pile as well so perhaps she has done some hunting.

So was tapping away on my keyboard, and I heard the sound again. Still 'deaf-eared' it. Ah but time for some tea. Off to the kitchen. Crossing the hallway the sound sounded again. With a tweet. A couple of tweets. Chirrups. Chick!!!!!!!!!!

I had temporarily forgotten about the incubator parked down the bottom of the hallway on the tumble dryer. Day One, last day, yesterday. No hatching last night. Felt hope dwindle.

Sped down the hallway, torch in hand. No lights in the house that hang from the ceiling yet. Have lamps in the office/ lounge and kitchen. Otherwise, it is torch light. And there! Inside the incubator, just visible in the beam of the torch, was a yellow fluffy lump!

Oh so now what to do...... go fetch Hubs is what I did. Groggy any time before 8.30 in the morning, at 6 in the morning he is not do-able. But he managed anyway. Got the pig transport box from the Tall Barn, the same one as had the Buff Orpington hen in it recently when she thought she might want to sit on eggs but then decided half way through the twenty one days necessary for an egg-sit that she was bored and had other things she needed to do but had got into such a state of muckiness with her under carriage that I had to hose her under parts with a hosepipe. This same box Hubs manhandled into the house. Rigged it up with a heat lamp.

Opened the incubator to rescue the chick. Or two. Or three. Or four. Or five!!!! Out they kept coming, some already dry, some a little on the damp side but not soggy:

Oh wow! And they are so big. How could they have possibly fitted inside the egg shells:

And here is the incubator tray. The one entire egg was infertile, which I already knew but left there anyway. I hoped that one would hatch, the rest I hadn't looked inside so didn't know if they would or would not hatch.

The bees are dead. Not all. But most. Despite my best efforts, I think the weather eventually defeated them. Felt like giving up with the Bee Project yesterday. But while cutting the bramble hedge all that kept going through my mind was : giving up is not an option.

But now we have five little chicks! All hatched from our own flock. We still have one chick and mum out in the hen run, and one hen sitting on a clutch of eggs in the Tall Barn. Gosh! All that young life! The miracle of life. How fascinating it is to watch. Not so fascinating is trying to keep an eye on the would-be-escapee ewe, so off into the Side Field they go today while we keep working on the fence.

Off to have a moment with the chicks. I shall probably spend loads of moments watching them. Must make a cake, must prep lunch, must get dressed, must feed the flock, must make Hubs his morning cup of tea otherwise he will be inclined to snooze on, but first.....I must, simply must, have a moment with those chicks!!!

And we will carry on with the Bee Project. Next year.......


Ken Devine said...

This is fascinating stuff, Vera...the ups and downs of running a smallholding.

Diane said...

How magical, glad to hear they all hatched except the one you knew was infertile, what fun.
Sorry about the bees but look forward to next years bee stories. As I have said previously, never a dull moment at your place :-) Have a good weekend. Diane

Duta said...

Congratulations on the birth of the chicks!
I envy you, as it's indeed fascinating to watch the emerging of new life.

And it's OK to postpone the bee project. You've got a lot to concentrate on at the moment.

Vera said...

Ken: Ups and downs in plenty here! Glad you enjoy sharing them with us!

Diane: Hope your weekend is a good one as well!

Duta: Seeing the ebb and flow of life here is indeed a fascinating experience, and one I feel so privileged to be part of. Thanks for you words of wisdom about the Bee Project! I still feel sad about the failure of the bees to survive this year.

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera, My mother used to hard boil some eggs, then peel them and cut them up into very small bits and then feed them to the chicks so that they have a good start on life. This helps them get the energy they need. My Mum did this for a few days to a week. After that, they got chick starter from the co-op. I hope this has helped at all.

Vera said...

Horst, thanks for the advice. They are on chick starter already but haven't started eating much, so will take your advice. Many thanks for passing this on to me, - your advice is always welcome.

Roz said...

How wonderful. I love fluffy chicks - so glad to hear the incubator did it's job xxx

Vera said...

We spend ages watching them, Roz, - they are a delight! Keep wanting to pick them up and give them a cuddle!