Tag Archives: Chicks

The Flood

Apologies for the long lag between posts. I had so many plans for this fall — posts about preserves, my favorite autumn dishes, and lots of photos to celebrate my favorite time of year.

Instead, the joy of harvest season came to an abrupt end when Colorado experienced a 500-year flood last month, washing away our pepper patch and all of my spare time.


But we were very, very lucky. Some of our neighbors lost everything, but our house was on a small island with the river flowing around us. The water didn’t make it past our garden, and I evacuated the August hatchlings from the chicken coop before it filled with knee-deep water, so we didn’t have any immediate losses from the flood.


But the past several weeks have been rough, with sleepless nights, plenty of manual labor, and far too much time spent dealing with flooded belongings and malfunctioning sump pumps. And though it’s not over yet, our cellar is finally drying out.


It’s been a sad but necessary thing to let the site lie fallow as I struggle to keep my head above water. But as I get a little more breathing room, I’ll be getting back in front of the stove and behind the camera. And I can’t wait.

Where’d all these chickens come from?

The chicks aren’t chicks anymore. They’re about to turn 6 weeks old, and now, they’re chickens.


The boys are starting to make themselves known, with big combs and little scuffles popping up everywhere. We’ve identified 10 that seem to be cockerels, exactly what we’d expect from the 19 chicks we hatched. I’ll go into detail about sexing chickens in another post, once I get photos of everyone. Not that I’m an expert or anything, quite the opposite. But I am finding it a lot easier to compare boys and girls now that there are so many of them.


The easter egger chicken above, known as Five Spice, is 100% boy. The large comb and the coloring are dead giveaways, even to me (and I convinced myself that my last two roosters were hens.)


This is Crispy, one of our assisted hatch chickens. Remember Crispy? We’re thinking girl for this one, but not sure yet. The other rough hatch chicks, Shelly and Sesame, are almost certainly girls. Glad I helped them out!


We ended up with 5 Easter Egger/Speckled Sussex chicks, which we refer to collectively as “The Cutlets,” after their mother. They are all very similar in appearance and turning out to be great little chickens — wily and very pretty. I think 3 of those are roosters, including this guy:


And last but not least:


This little barred easter egger, called Asada, is by far the friendliest chicken I’ve ever met. She flies up to perch on my shoulder when I bend down to refill their feeder, and settles in my lap for a nap if I sit down in the run. So far she looks like a girl, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed a while longer. Maybe you can cross yours too?

Release the chicks! (3.5 weeks)


The chicks are going on 4 weeks old now, and everyone is doing great. Yesterday they got to come out and mingle in the yard with the big chickens (who stayed as far away as possible.)




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An update on the chicks

It’s been a hectic couple weeks, with all my spare time spent getting ready to plant the garden. And true to form, digging out all our garden tools prompted a whole-house organization project, the likes of which my sister and I  haven’t achieved in the 3 years we’ve been living here. Sorry for the long lag between posts, but I assure you there will be a lot coming out of the garden (and freshly organized kitchen!) in the coming weeks.

The chicks are getting huge already! As of yesterday, we no longer have house chickens — everyone is out in the coop and having a great time testing out their new wings, which are feathering out like crazy.almost_2_weeks

So far we’ve had no losses, and all the chicks I had to assist are doing great. Two of them had to wear little Band-Aid splints for a while, but as I hoped all the legs and toes are in the right position now and they’re running around with the others. sesame!

Most of the chicks don’t really have names yet, because a lot of them look alike and it’ll be hard to keep track until they get their adult feathers. But this one is Sesame, the last chick to hatch (and one I was sure wouldn’t survive):


And this is Shelly, the pathetic-looking wet chick with the shell pieces stuck to her back. She’s one of the biggest in the bunch now!


Except for the Light Brahmas, which really look more like turkeys. But we didn’t hatch those.


But another of our chickens isn’t doing so great. General Tso, the Speckled Sussex rooster, started coming unhinged about the same time we moved the chicks out to their little room in the coop. He hasn’t tried to harm them, but started showing random aggression toward humans.


And so though it pains me to say it, the General’s lease is up as soon as we finish getting the garden planted and have time for another “outdoor project.” He’s officially crossed the line into mean, delicious rooster. I just need to think of a recipe.

Chicken Hatch Day 21: Brooder Buddies


The first 3 hatchlings: Easter Egger x Speckled Sussex in the center, flanked by Easter Egger x Rhode Island Reds.

We’ve got 15 chicks now, with more still hatching in the incubator. The early birds spent most of their first day sleeping, eating, and stretching. Must feel great to be free after spending 21 days in an egg.brooder_buddies



Most of the chicks had no trouble whatsoever, but so far we’ve had three that got stuck in the shell and needed a little help.


This little one was having a hard time last night, but finally got out of the shell this morning with some help. It’s still in the incubator, and recognizable by the piece of shell still stuck to its back. We normally name all our chicks after food, but this one earned a special non-edible name: Shelly (or Sheldon, as the case may be)



Chicken Hatch Day 20: First Chick!


The first chick hatched about 7:30 this morning. It’s a Rhode Island Red x Easter Egger from our friend Claudia, and I really hope it’s a girl.

We’re starting to see a lot more action in our eggs! I think this little one will have company soon. You can view the hatch live here.



Chicken Hatch Day 20: First Pip!

We’re heading into day 20 of our incubator hatch, and we just got our first pip!


We’ve been hearing muffled peeps from the eggs all day, so at least some of the chicks have broken through the aircell and are breathing through the shell now. And one is getting ready to make an appearance in the next 24 hours. View the live stream here.

Chicken Hatch Day 18: Lockdown


(photo by Anne Dirkse)

Tonight the eggs reached another big milestone: Lockdown. This means we’re in the home stretch, and we took the eggs out of the automatic turner and laid them down on their sides so the embryos can get in position for hatch. We may even see them start rolling around a bit in the next day or two as the chicks move inside. So, we’ve started up our live stream (via Ustream) to keep an eye on the incubator.


The main thing about lockdown is that the humidity requirements are higher, especially at high altitude. I’ve been weighing a few of the eggs to track how much liquid they’ve lost (chicken eggs should lose about 13% during the course of incubation.)


They seem to be pretty much on track in terms of weight loss and air cell size, so we’ll increase humidity to around 70% from now on. (We’ve been keeping it around 50%, but it should be higher during lockdown so the shell membranes don’t dry out and “shrink-wrap” the chick.)


(photo by Anne Dirkse)


(photo by Anne Dirkse)

The other thing about lockdown is that we’re not supposed to open the incubator from now until the chicks dry off, so it’s going to be a long (and possibly anxious) few days.


And just to keep things interesting, it looks like we might get yet another late season snowstorm tomorrow. That’s 3 Mondays in a row now, and I’m convinced it’s because I have eggs in the incubator (Colorado, you can thank me later.) But the generator’s ready, so bring on the snow. I might even wash my car tomorrow.


Chicken Hatch Day 14: Candling #2

It’s hard to believe, but we’re already 2/3 of the way done with our incubation. In just about a week the chicks should be getting ready to make their appearance!

We candled the eggs again tonight, and the chicks are big enough now that it’s hard to see anything going on inside. Especially with the darker shelled eggs, there’s not much to see besides a few veins:



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Chicken Hatch Day 8: Candling

After waiting patiently for 8 days, tonight we candled all of the eggs to see how many are developing.


Of course, I snuck a peek at 3 of them last night, but that only amplified my excitement. So as soon as night fell, our friends across the street came over and we got started.


As much as I love candling eggs, it’s always such a stressful endeavor. Handling so many tiny, fragile lifeforms makes my fingers feel like they’ve turned to sticks of butter. But this time, at least we weren’t crammed into a pitch black closet with a growling hen.

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