December 16, 2017

So we filled the chicken pen, now we want to make our own chickens, we think that Rufus will make some pretty fancy chicks with some of the other white hens we have so we decided to be safe that we would make an incubator as non of the chickens at the time were reliable enough to sit on the eggs for long enough to make a baby so we decide we would do this ourselves. A box with a light and some straw should do the trick, a thermometer to make sure its not too hot and not too cold (somewhere between 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit to be precise) we will have baby chicks in 21 days. 7 days later we check and are looking for a black dot and some veins inside the egg, we did this with a head torch in the dark. Result at least 3 of the eggs look to be doing something, so we decide we had cracked it.The day we got the puppies, you remember the story, lost money, teeth out, smashed face on car windows yada yada yada. Well before we got the dogs we visited Jonathan the Brahma man with the bananas, he told us that we can have some eggs to hatch for 10,000 colones. Heimo liked this idea very much, the Brahmas are the best looking hens that we have seen so far and we like things that look nice around the finca. We went back to see Jonathan now that we had made an incubator and had some eggs left over from the days of Kevin and Sexy Sue. We spoke to Jonathan, he showed us his broody (what they call a chicken that wants to sit on eggs) and the mama chicken that sits with the new ones to keep them warm, all kept in very small boxes/cupboards to stop them getting distracted by the others or wandering off too far. We told Jonathan our plan and he said no, no, no and again no. you must have a hen, a hen will look after your eggs and hatch them as they would their own, but we didn’t have a “broody” hen so we had to improvise. Jonathan didn’t like this idea at all, so he insisted that we take one of his broody chickens, a very scrawny looking thing, imagine a vulture, the ones with a red face and then make it small like a sparrow, you have vicious looking Vera. So we take her home in a feed bag with some holes poked in it and a tray of eggs that I have to sit with on my knee being super careful not to knock them all the while trying not to antagonize vicious looking Vera. You can imagine that this is very easy in the Jeep, without doors or seat belts and lopsided suspension. We make it home and make a box for Vera and the eggs like we had seen at Jonathans house, we put them all in the toilet In the bodega so she has some security and wont get distracted. An hour later I go back, Vera is no where to be seen, how has she disappeared in a toilet?? I panic, she is sat on the door frame looking down at me, vulture style. So I get her down, put her on the eggs and block up the door frame so she cant get back up there. Another hour later I pop back and she is gone again, where the hell is she?? This time she is on the shower rail!!!! Come on Vicious Vera sit on the eggs and do your job like you are supposed to do. This time she isn’t getting one over on me, ill do like Jonathan did and make sure she cannot escape the box, so some chicken wire around the box should keep her in, bingo she cannot get our and hasn’t got much of an option to not sit on the eggs as there are very few places she can sit. Another hour later I go back and she is siting there in the box just looking at me, not best pleased but she didn’t look too mad considering her situation. We left her over night and came back the next morning she had pushed all the hay and the eggs to one side and is sitting on the box without any eggs. Bloody Vera!!! What is her problem? We make the decision to take her out and take our chances with the incubator. We read online that even if your eggs feel cold to touch they can still hatch fine so we put them in the box with the others from sexy sue and Kevin and leave them for a week. Vicious Vera is now siting at the top of the chicken coop peering down on all the other hens and Rufus looking disdainful.The eggs are nestled nicely in the incubator and we checked them every few days to see what was happening. The one from sexy sue and Kevin was progressing nicely, you can almost see it like an ultra sound, the others so far nothing. Then one day last week I popped in and saw a hole in one of the eggs, it was covered in ants tho, so I get Nick and we pick it up and blow off all the ants and put it back, a day later still no change but we can hear the chick inside chirping so we know its ok, we leave it alone to let it do its thing. Another day later and is out, we made a baby!!!! It was super slimy, black and very ugly looking and for some reason liked to drag itself into the water bath that we put in there to keep the eggs from drying out. So we take it out and put it in its own box as it has to dry out and stay warm, we also go and get sexy sue who by now has been siting on about 12 eggs every day and pecks anyone who tries to get them from under her thinking she is perfect mothering material. We put her in the box with the chick but she doesn’t seem to like it much. The chick was in one corner, she was in the other looking appalled at it but we left them to it figuring she would sort it out at some point. But later that day nick goes back and says that it looks like Sexy Sue has pecked the baby and its stomach contents are coming out :o it was so disgusting so we removed her and left the chick to dry out over night alone. We frantically googled to see if this was the end for the chick, and it appeared not, sometimes if the incubator is too hot it can happen that the chicks stomach has issues detaching from the egg. So we breath a sigh of relief and decide to check back in the morning.
She’s alive!! Less chirpy but alive so we go about our day and think nothing more until around 9am, Nick comes in looking all sad, our baby has died, she struggled though the night only to die the next day, it was so sad, Im heart broken, our first born chick dead before it even got going! We should bury it, I told Nick, I got a look, its just a chick Rach we will throw it over the fence, to the cow field, like we did its brothers and sisters that didn’t hatch!!!! RuthlessSo we live and learn, keep the incubator slightly cooler, don’t move it, keep the ants out and do not leave the new born chick with a hen until it is more chick and less slimy monster. So we improved the incubator, have a cooling system and a box for the chicks to move on to when they are born until they are more palatable for an adoptive mother hen.At the minute we have 6 in the box and 3 under Sexy Sue, so we will see who is better at hatching eggs, Nick and his incubator or Sexy Sue and her bum.Till next time, from the improvising incubators, Sexy Sue and Vicious Vera…Pura Vida.