Recently Denver made it legal to have up to five hens within city limits, with a permit, of course. Our house had toyed around with the idea of getting some in late summer but then realized we’d have to make accommodations for the chickens over winter, which sounded less than appealing at the time. But someone that we knew was getting rid of them, so of course we had to at least talk about it.
Memories of following my hill billy of a granddaddy around his chicken yard, feeding the beasts and lifting their eggs floated around in my mind. Muddy work boots and old jeans and a bucket full of eggs. They are still some of my fondest memories.
Even though I didn’t get the chickens I wanted in Denver, there is no shortage of chickens here. Carol and Graham aren’t sure on the count, but they have maybe 50 mixed egg laying chickens, 7-8 silky chickens, 8 leghorns (they are big egg layers), 4 hubbards (for now-yum!) , and some odd number of silky chicks and leghorn chicks. I’m guessing at some of these numbers, if you can’t tell. What I’m trying to say though, is that there are quite a few.
And every morning and night they need to be fed, and as well as have their eggs lifted. So I get to relive my childhood. And to get to my post on the eggs we lift, click here.
But because, in my opinion, Carol shares that fantastic characteristic of constantly needing projects to complete-the same way that I do-she hatched more. She bought probably a dozen or so online of a breed called cream crested legbar, which lay blue colored eggs, and the rest she collected from her own stock of daily eggs.
I can’t remember when she put them in the incubator. It must have been about a month ago now,
but earlier this week they started to show signs of life. Apparently you can hear them chirping even before they hatch, as we found out. And they usually start out with just a tiny little chip in the egg. They have a special little spike on their nose that helps them to break the egg shell, and you aren’t supposed to help them out. You have to let them hack it out themselves. No helicopter parents allowed here.
Some of them hatched in no time, some took a while. But most of the activity happened within a 24 hour time span. Once one started, they all wanted out. And the incubator started to smell horrible. You walked in the room and you could smell some sort of weird fleshy smell. It’s an exciting event, but certainly doesn’t smell like roses.
But hey! They are kind of cute. Well, maybe not right when they break open the egg shell, but give them some time, they are still covered in mucus and probably whatever was making the room smell so bad. I mean, it’s not like you popped out looking absolutely adorable.
If you did, you’d be the first ever in the history of mankind.
Either way, once they get out of the shell and unfold themselves (probably within 20min-1hr) they start to look a little more like a chick. This one down and to the left is a silky chick. They aren’t big egg layers. They’re more of a novelty, actually.
They draw a lot of attention when Carol and Graham go out to smallholding events because their feathers are more like fur, and they have fantastic little tuffs on the top of their head. Carol has people wanting to buy some. Luckily we had a few hatch.
This one to the right was just born, as you can see from how wet it is, but it was still quite active. It doesn’t matter how recently they’ve hatched, they immediately start talking to you. They’re looking for their mum, and you just might be it. In fact you are it.
That’s just they way it goes when you’re born out of an incubator, but it’s not a bad life.
Especially when you have me as a pseudo-mum.
Carol kept telling me that you can’t take chicks on airplanes. I finally had to admit that she was right. I think security might detect a small skeleton in my pocket and drag me aside to quarantine the thing.
Oh, did I mention that the reason they talk so much is not just because they are looking for their mum, but because when they find her they also start imprinting on her. Whoever they interact with after their born becomes their mum, in their mind.
This might have been part of my plan, as you can see from the Exhibit A.
Despite the decent number of eggs, only one of the cream crested legbars that Carol bought offline hatched. I had been curious how mail-order eggs off eBay might do. Now we know, I guess. It would have been nice to have more, though. People tend to love their blue tinted eggs.
And what happens to them from here on out? Well, when chicks have been born out of an incubator, you obviously have to solve the issue of a replacement for the mum’s warmth. You can’t just leave them in the incubator. It’s built to maintain the proper heat and humidity for what they need in the egg, not out of it. That means they need somewhere else to go. The next device they go to is something called the “brooder.” Since I couldn’t cuddle them full-time, they had to go there. But they’re quite happy, I’m glad to report.
And still cuddly. 😉