Tag Archives: life

Hatch Stories

A number of people checked-in at different stages during the process of our Salmon Faverolles eggs hatching over the weekend. Thanks for watching! This experience turned out to be more incredible and more fun than we anticipated, and I am glad we were able to share it with friends, family, and blog readers via live streaming. If you missed out and want to cut directly to the chase, we now have a live brooder cam so you can check-in on our chicks as they grow.

We have some photos to share despite the fact that we had a card glitch on the camera we used for most of our documentation. We lost a lot of amazing photos and videos. Technology! My only consolation is that I had a lot less photo editing and uploading to do and we will just have to do this again someday.

Friday morning I woke up and went directly to check on our incubator as we knew we were getting close. I honestly didn’t expect to find anything, but immediately noticed the first pip.

“Pip” can be a noun or verb, and we used this word a lot over the weekend as we watched for each chick to first break through its eggshell. Once I discovered things were getting started, I ran to tell Jess, “WE HAVE A CRACK!.” We knew this would take hours, but because she had to go to work and didn’t want to miss anything (and neither did some of our friends) we ran with a suggestion to use Jess’ laptop and Ustream to set up our Hatch Cam.

Here’s what our set-up looked like into the wee hours of the night. Multiple cameras, lights, and the laptop serving as our web cam. Everything was crammed into this little corner as this was the safest spot in our house to keep dogs and cats from knocking it over. We did get multiple reports of our cats making appearances on the Hatch Cam, however!

While Jess was at work I luckily had the day off. Levi even had the day off school but had to take a practice AP exam. I shuttled him around and tried to get things done but spent a lot of time staring at eggs. We had started with 7 hatching eggs that were shipped to us, and from the beginning 2 never developed. We candled them frequently during incubation. In the last week we had become certain that one of the remaining 5 eggs had quit developing, though we left it in the incubator with the others. Our hope was to get those four to hatch. It turns out incubating and hatching eggs involves a LOT of worrying.

The first pip seemed to get the tiniest fraction bigger as the day progressed, and I watched and waited for the others to start. Luckily, there was still action. You could hear them peeping through the shells. Even the web cam could pick up the peeps that were heard through the shells and through the incubator. The eggs also moved! It was so incredible. Sometimes it was a tiny twitch, and sometimes those little eggs really rocked. You could also distinguish between the peeps that were from pipped eggs and the more muffled peeps from inside in-tact shells.

The egg that had first pipped was #6. Awhile before picking up Levi, I discovered bits of broken shell underneath egg #1. It was breaking through the bottom and could barely be seen. I announced that discovery to the web cam audience and Jess at work. Then I brought Levi home so he could confirm that it wasn’t my imagination. We had two pips! And then several more hours of peeping and jiggling but not much else. Jess made it home from work and barely missed any action.

We went grocery shopping to make sure we all would get dinner, and on the way home my mom called to report she thought there was a crack on top of egg #2 visible on the web cam. That egg was sort of to the back of the view, and I had already had one other viewer think the shadow from the lid was a pip. We were excited to see if there was a change. When we got home, there was nothing visible on top of egg #2, but I decided to turn the incubator around and discovered not only a pip on the bottom but a beak sticking out! I don’t know how long we had been missing out on that!


Egg #2 with a beak hanging out.

This was especially good news as this was the only egg that we had not caught in the act of wiggling much at all. Now we began to wonder which egg would go first, and when would lazy egg #7 finally pip? The suspense! Luckily, egg #7 had been really kicking around most of the day so at this point we grew more confident about getting four chicks.

As it got dark out, egg #6 (our first pip) started to make serious progress. After they pip, they zip a ring around the egg that they can then kick apart.

We didn’t take our eyes off the incubator once the zipping started. While #6 was zipping, suddenly #1 (the one that had the broken shell bits underneath it) got very active. That egg was rocking back and forth and started to zip. It looked like it was progressing a lot faster than the one we had been watching make slow progress all day.

And finally, #6 opened up!

It’s a wing!

And out came a foot!

It’s a whole chick!

There are a few videos of #6 emerging and that is where our documentation glitch occurred. We lost all the pictures and videos after that, sadly. I mostly wish we had the photos and videos of them getting up on their feet and squirming around in there together.

While we were busy watching #6 emerge, #1 went from starting to zip to hatching immediately after #6. Some viewers at home noticed #1 was also out moments before we did! Suddenly we had two chirping, wet chicks inside the incubator with the other eggs. They would rest for a moment and then cheep and wiggle around, even going on top of and over the eggs. They would wake each other up like infant twins. It was incredible.

We were up until very late watching the new babies and waiting to see what would happen with our other two eggs. At some point there was the excitement of the final egg, #7, pipping as I watched. Sometime between 1 and 2am we decided to take a nap and check on them in a couple hours. Nothing was happening, so we slept until morning. First thing in the morning we added water through a couple little tiny holes in the incubator lid. We had two completely dry fluff balls and wanted to make sure there was plenty of humidity so the two pipped eggs wouldn’t be stuck in dried out membranes. We could not open the incubator to remove the baby chicks until they hatched!

I continued to fret over egg #2, whose beak had been hanging out for approaching 24 hours and the membrane around the pip looked very dry. All my motherly worry was for nothing. About 12 hours after the first two hatched, the second pair did the same. While I ran Levi to go volunteer at the food bank, Jess watched #2 finally hatch. And shortly after I got home #7 hatched before my eyes. Every single moment of it was amazing. Once all four were out, we pulled a still wet #7 out for a quick photo shoot. Those pictures we didn’t lose.

Behold, the contents of egg #7:

We will be back with video, day old chick photos, and baby chick names. We thought we wouldn’t be able to tell them apart at this point, but they are each actually very distinct. Now is your chance to guess what book or movie we named them after. Our first baby chicks were named after characters from the John Waters movie Cry-Baby and our two Lavender Orpingtons are named after The Hunger Games books. I will give you two hints: a) these babies are named after a book that was also made into a movie. b) the book was published in the 1960’s and the movie was made in the 80’s.

Wow, if you read this whole thing, you really should leave a comment. Thanks everybody!

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Hatch Watch 2012 Live Stream

Update: The chicks moved out of the incubator to the brooder and you can watch them here.

Your regularly scheduled Jar Lunch is being pre-empted for live streaming of our hatching eggs! We woke up this morning to one pip and lots of peeping. You can hear the little peeps every once in awhile, and us cheering them on. They respond to the sound of our voices sometimes!

As an added bonus, you may hear our dogs Cash and Clementine whining, although I’m trying to convince them to spend some time outside in the sun with the fully formed chickens.

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color

The theme of this every week.

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I’m going to Disneyland!

Levi & I are starting to prepare for what I have dubbed “Mommy & Me Spring Break 2012.” We have traveled a bit, but we have never done a trip, just the two of us. Jess isn’t a big fan of roller coasters or Disney, so she is sitting this one out. I am so excited, we are going to Disneyland!

Our last visit was 10 years ago, and a lot has changed. I hear they have apps to check the waits for different rides. We need your help! What else has changed? We will be there for 3 solid days with a pass for both parks and already have airfare and a hotel adjacent to the park. So tell us… what cannot be missed? What should we take? How can we keep our cell phones from getting soaked? Where can we get decent vegetarian food? I’m hoping healthy food options have improved a little since our last visit.

Comment with lots of advice, please!

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chicken check-in

We still have the chickens separated for the sake of quarantine.

Katniss & Primrose are still inseparable.

And they are growing like weeds.

Unfortunately, the weather has been mostly terrible so they have been pretty cooped-up. They need a lot of practice exploring the world, because they have a lot to learn about it. It’s so strange to have babies in the house again. They are getting braver and testing their wings little by little. We have read that we need to quarantine them for 30 days, but I’m not sure how easy it will be to keep them separated for so long. We are anxious to see how Pepper & Lenora treat the little ones, and to get these ladies out of the brooder and into the world.

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Lavender Hens dilly dilly

Thanks so much for your kind words about Ramona Rickettes. Your sentiments help us get through rough spots and we appreciate it.

Today, I bring another chicken update.

Over the past month, we have been discussing adding to our flock. Even before Ramona passed away, we needed two more birds. We researched our options: chicks-by-mail via USPS, buying chicks from a feed store, buying hatching eggs, getting older birds, etc. We scoured craigslist, mypetchicken.com and breeders’ websites for hours. I have called just about every farm store in a 100 mile radius to talk to them about chicks. I made plans to pick up day-old chicks, but the chicks died in shipment. None of our options seemed like the right fit.

Some history: Years ago when we started planning our future as chicken keepers, Krista and I became a little obsessed with a British breed, the lavender orpingtons. They are like standard orpingtons, fluffy and docile and dependable layers, but they are a very strange color. We did some research and learned that there was only one breeder in the US actively improving the lavender orpington. We couldn’t find a single breeder in our state. Those were the good old days when I didn’t think I would drive to another state for a chicken. So we put our lavender dreams on the back burner and focused on some more practical breeds for our backyard flock.


Photo from Feathersite.com
They are so pretty.

Last week, Krista saw an ad on craigslist from a lavender orpington breeder who sounded competent in her ad. If you’ve ever looked at chickens on craigslist, you know that competent craigslist ad-writing is not a prerequisite for chicken husbandry. I placed a phone call and we found ourselves in the car lickety-split. After a harrowing experience with traffic in Bellevue and several conversations about how we would never, ever willingly move to that metro area, we found ourselves at a 10-acre farm some 30 miles outside Seattle. It was dark when we arrived, so we took charge of two sleepy young pullets and brought them home.

Welcome home Katniss and Primrose!

They are such a peculiar color. I can’t wait to see them fill out with fluffy feathers. We’re very smitten. They are being quarantined in the brooder for a while because biosecurity is important. It’s very sweet to hear the peeping and talking of young chickens in the house again. We’re spoiling them with cuddles and treats so they will be trained to worship us like the big chickens do.

Speaking of the big chickens, stay tuned for our experiences with flock integration. The pecking order is very real and merciless, so keep your fingers crossed for us.

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R.I.P Ramona Rickettes

I know a lot of our new readers are here for the food, but the heart of our operation is really the animals that live with us. I need to share a few words about our recently departed hen, Ramona Rickettes. When Krista went out to let the chickens out yesterday morning, she found Ramona lying still and quiet in the run. There was no sign of violence or illness, just a quiet bird lying down like she was taking a nap. We spent a long time trying to guess what went wrong – was she egg-bound and we didn’t notice? It seems unlikely since we spend a lot of time with them, but it’s possible. Could she have eaten something sharp or poisonous? Did her heart give out from the excitement of a rare sunny day? We’ll never know, we can just re-double our efforts to be vigilant, re-read all the books and hope we’re better at spotting problems in the future.

She was supposed to be a Welsummer, but through a fateful mix-up, we got a Speckled Sussex instead. She was an extremely cute, spirited chick who grew into a beautiful speckled bird. She reliably laid lovely light brown eggs. She was one of the best models during the early days of chick photography.


She was best friends with Pepper Walker, and you rarely saw one of them without the other. They were closer friends than any of our other birds, and I feel especially bad for poor Pepper, who has lost her kindred chicken spirit.

I know she was “only a chicken,” but what a chicken! She was one of our first chickens, and she brought so much joy and life into our backyard. Thank you for the cuddles, Ramona, and for your peeps that grew into squawks. Thank you for quiches, fritattas and poached eggs on toast. Rest in Peace, Ramona Rickettes. You were a funny, beautiful bird and we miss you so much.

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