Well the flock will be one year old in June. We have survived our first Northeast Winter and we just just hatched our own eggs. I think it is now time that I write the final chapter in my guide to raising chickens. I’ve touched upon these topics now and then with some of the blogs over the past few months. For some of these topics, I am going to refer to previous posts as added references for you. I am by no means an expert in keeping chickens. I am also positive that I am not going to cover all the ins and outs of keeping backyard chickens. However, I do know what I have discovered along our journeys and I am happy to share them with you.
|Number 8’s pip hole|
Yesterday evening, both eggs number 8 and 9 had pip holes. Number eight arrived around 7 pm and what a shock! Once number 8 was completely dried after sitting underneath Dolly, I discovered that egg number 8’s color was different. I was mistaken in my last posts. After some researching, it appears that most of the chicks are going to be Black Silkies. However, not number 8. Number 8 is a Lavender Silkie.
According to sources, there is about a 25% chance per clutch that you will get a lavender Silkie. Well, we got one! Egg number 8 is so very fair and definitely a silvery color. There is absolutely no black anywhere. All the others are black with yellow tipped wings, yellow bellies and yellow feet feathers. Some of their toes are even yellow. Egg number 8 has black toes, just like Mommy.
Yesterday, egg number 9 started peeping as well. Even though both eggs 8 and nine both had pips at the same time. They did not hatch at the same time like the twins did two days ago. Finally, egg number 9 hatched this morning about 8:45am. For now, it is still to wet to determine the coloring, but I think it is a Black Silkie.
I have also photographed the inside of the empty egg shell. I am absolutely amazed at the shell. I love to see the remains of the chick’s life source. I am amazed at the remaining thin membrane and the vasculature that supported this chick’s life over the last 21 days.
When I started out on this journey with Dolly, I read that the mother hen will abandon any eggs that she feels are not viable. With my inexperience, I placed eggs underneath her over a four day period. I knew that the hatch dates would be staggered. I did not know if Dolly would remain on the eggs for the entire time but she did. She knew.
While Dolly patiently waited on the nest for the others to hatch and strengthen, she allow the older chicks to leave her safety. The older chicks come out from underneath Dolly and walk over for food and water.
All of our remaining eggs have hatched! We have a total of seven live chicks. I consider this experience life changing for my family. It is wonderful to raise day old chick like we did last Spring from the hatchery. However, it is an amazing family experience to have hatched them on your own!
|A new life in the making|
Yesterday, the kids and I candled the eggs for the first time. We did not entirely know what we were doing, but thought that all good farmers candle their eggs for viability, so we should probably do the same.
I went in to the garage and found a small hand held flashlight with an old fashioned bulb; none of this LED stuff. I cut a piece of cardboard into a 3″x3″ square. Then I cut into the middle of the square, a hole the size of a quarter. Next I took an empty toilet paper roll and cut it down to a 2″ tube. As the Silkie eggs are much smaller than standard eggs, I had to adjust the diameter of the toilet paper roll. I cut the tube down the side and curled it into itself until it was the diameter of a quarter. Once satisfied, I taped it into place. Finally, I taped the toilet paper tube onto the cardboard square. My contraption was built.
Quickly, I grabbed egg number one from underneath Dolly. I turned on the flashlight, placed my cardboard contraption on top, then placed the egg on top of the light. Then I saw it. The most spectacular sight of early life. A beautiful intricate spiderweb of veins spiraling outward from a dark center spot. As, I turned the egg, it all seemed to float in space, gliding along the egg’s shell. Magical.
Within a matter of 5 minutes, the kids and I candled eggs 1-6. We decided to wait a couple more days on eggs 7-9 as they are younger by a couple of days. My eight year old son was truly amazed by the experience. He asked a lot of questions about the experience and I answered them as best I could. The children are learning life’s lessons. Thanks to Dolly, patience and dedication are currently the curriculum of the month at Tilly’s Nest.
|Here I am candling our eggs in the basement|
Top Photo Credit: Chickens in the Road, Bottom Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
|Mama Dolly takes a break|