'Beidh cearca ann is ál sicín!'
Spring is here and we are delighted because for the first time we have decided to hatch chickens for our flock. It was really a great project, from researching the methods of raising chicks to finding the best incubator. Long debates were had about the merits of wood shavings versus peat moss versus vermiculite as bedding material for the chicks! The idea had been on the cards for a while and finally we decided to go for it. The incubator arrived and then we went off to find some fertile eggs from a source other than our own! We were very fortunate to find lovely Barnvelder eggs and so in they went. Every day the water levels and temps were checked and during that time we speculated as to how they were developing, (I was supposed to get a candler but forgot it and then it was too late) and part of my brain was trying not to be too optimistic, to avoid disappointment if they failed to hatch, but I should have had more faith, !like clockwork on the 21st day in the incubator, the first eggs began to hatch out. It was so eggciting (pun intended) to see the little miniscule beaks forcing their way out and slowly, slowly after hours of ( the little chick would peck and rest and peck and rest) herculean effort the chick would wriggle its way out of the egg and begin to chirp. After a few hours several chicks hatched and the sound of chirping filled the house. The tiny chicks, fluffed out and after 24 hours were transferred to the brooder area, to spend time under the euphemistically named, electric hen until they become hardy enough to go outdoors. For now though they are very happy little things, devouring their special organic chicken food (which the local co-op kindly ordered in for us). Long ago people would have taken no-notice of such little miracles but to us they are very special. They showed so much determination and persistence fighting their way out of eggs, and when the chicks fluffed up you would wonder how on earth they fitted in at all! When I picked them up they were so tiny and light, probably weighing only a few grams at most I marvelled all the more at their strength. Every day brings new delights as they develop and grow and by early summer we should have the first few eggs! They are just pure joy to have around and really what could be nicer in spring than little chicks? It is a most rewarding hobby and if you have the space and the time then go for it!
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