Finally, I bought a new candling light for my eggs. I am stunned and completely amazed at the things this tiny but high powered light lets us see. This picture is not at all good because my point and shoot camera has a hard time negotiating the light and darkness, but the black dot about two thirds of the way down is the chicken's eye and if you look carefully, you can see the curve of his little body. (He's upside down, his body is pointing toward the top of the egg.) Amazing.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
The geese and ducks had most definitely outgrown the accommodations in my garage. Yesterday morning we went out to check on the birds and found one of the ducks had somehow gotten himself stuck in a pitcher of water I'd been using to water the birds. I have no idea how long he'd been there, but he seemed perfectly content. Silly duck.
When we got to the farm we took the tape off of Kate's wing. And, as you can see in the picture below, Kate's wing looked much better. Spence's tape was gone and I figured he'd managed to get it off. You can see that his wing is still droopy. After we took Kate's tape off, Melissa told me that she'd taken Spence's tape off on Thursday because he'd cut himself on a tractor implement. Apparently, when Spence had the accident he was bleeding quite a bit and things looked pretty bad. But Melissa said that once the bleeding stopped and they cleaned Spence up the injury wasn't bad, at all. Then she paused, and looked at me with a perfectly straight face, and said, "I've been practicing telling you that story since it happened."
I laughed a relaxed laugh. As if to say, "Who me, worry about a goose?" It was easy to be calm while I was standing there looking at a perfectly healthy Spence. But, yes, I'm sure I would have been sick with worry for Spencer if I'd known he was injured and had to wait and see how he would recover.
We also took the two chicks we'd hatched on April 1st to the Taylor Farm. When I hatched them I thought one was a banty and one was a regular chicken because he was so much bigger than the tiny banty. We named them both Pip.Twenty four days later, Little Pip, who started out smaller than a double A battery was still tiny. You can see him in the pic below walking around with regular sized chicks who were only one day old. The only way you could really tell Little Pip from the one day old chicks was that he had all of his wing and tail feathers. I kept him for 25 days because I wanted him to have a fighting chance at the farm. When we unloaded the chickens at the farm Melissa was surprised at how small Big Pip was. Yep. It turns out Big Pip is a banty too, and actually on the small side for a 25 day old banty. Grace is holding Big Pip in the picture above. If Big Pip was a small banty you can imagine how completely shocked Melissa and her sons were to see how tiny Little Pip still was. Melissa said she had never, ever, seen such a minuscule chicken.
Hopefully Little Pip will "grow up" to be the smallest chicken on the Taylor farm. And hopefully Spence will steer clear of the tractors.
My dad showed us all the proper way to hold a goose, or duck, or chicken. We immediately put his technique into practice.
Logan lined his chicks up like peeps.
This year, some of our eggs had money in them.
Mindy barefoot, Susan in her pajama pants. We're very formal people.
One of the eggs had $20 in it. Four $5 bills. We told the kids if they found the egg they would be the Egg Champion, but had to give each kid $5. Carter found the egg and happily distributed the cash.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Oops. Next year, we may have to rethink the candle placement.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
I let the kids dig through my fabric and pick out a color for water and a color for continents. Then we ironed the Heat n Bond onto both pieces of fabric and cut out our basic shapes. To put the earth together we 1) peeled the continents, 2) ironed them onto the earth while the earth still had its paper backing, 3) once we had our earth complete we, 4) peeled its back off and ironed it on to the t-shirt.
It was really easy. The whole thing took about five minutes.
I let everyone draw their own continents. As usual, Carter went a little avant garde with his. Meanwhile, I was sitting in front of my computer with a picture of the earth on the screen, trying to cut my fabric into the perfect shapes. Grace took one look at me and said, "Mom you're over thinking this. There are many different ways to look at the earth." My little daughter is so wise. Here we are on Earth Day, in our Earth Day shirts.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Like, our eggs, seen here boiling, are from Melissa's farm, and were, in fact, laid by chickens that we ourselves hatched. The kids thought that was very cool. I did too.
We went with our usual assortment of dye tubs and vinegar infused dye tablets. The vinegar really does make the colors brighter. We also had a couple of Martha Stewart's swirl baths in place. Using Martha's technique, you add olive oil to your dye bath to give the eggs a marbleized look. Carter took one whiff of the olive oil in the swirl bath and the vinegar in the dye bath and said, "This smells delicious!"
Yesterday Carter hunted for Easter eggs at his pre school. He came home with a bag filled with plastic eggs. One of the eggs he found was smaller than all of the regular sized eggs. He took out the small, aqua blue egg, handed it to me and said, "Look mom, a banty egg. You can have it, I know how much you like them." It's the exact same thing he would say if he found an actual banty egg on the farm. It made me smile that he identified the small plastic egg with the tiny chickens we love to hatch.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
It was last spring that I decided to take a shot at hatching an egg. My dad and I built an incubator, and 21 days later Scarlett came into our lives. The moment I saw tiny, wet Scarlett raise her head and gaze at her audience through the incubator window, I was in.
My first Brinsea incubator was a birthday gift. Then, I found Melissa and the Taylor Farm on Craigslist while I was hunting for hatching eggs.
I remember our first trip to the farm last April. We gathered eggs, and met all of the animals. We even saw some big grey geese that Melissa's husband had just brought home. I specifically remember her saying, "I don't know what we're supposed to do with those geese."
When I asked why her husband bought them, she replied that he just loved birds. I remember thinking that this man might have a screw loose. Everyone knows how mean geese are. Right?
When we were getting ready to leave the farm, Melissa went back into her house and came out with two duck eggs and two banty eggs. When she asked me if I wanted to try to hatch the ducks, I actually took a step back. She explained that the ducks would take a week longer than the chickens, but should be fine in the same incubator.
At this wee stage of my life as an egg hatcher, I couldn't possibly imagine some eggs hatching while others stayed in the incubator. It sounded like uncontrollable chaos. I simply told Melissa no, that I couldn't possibly hatch the duck eggs. So, she handed me the banty eggs and let me go home. The bantys I could handle, they were just small chickens and would only take 21 days.
A month later, I returned to the farm. Chicks in tow. And so it began. Our monthly exchange of freshly hatched chicks for freshly laid eggs. Gradually, I warmed up to the idea of ducks, and even guineas. Melissa found a nest of guinea eggs just as we were leaving the farm one day. I'll never forget the sight of her hauling ass down the gravel road in her suburban, jumping out, running over to Lisa's car and handing her four fresh guinea eggs. Well, it was actually the look on Lisa's face that I'll never forget. Melissa was adding guineas to Lisa's turn with the incubator.
And then came the goose eggs. One of those big grey geese that Melissa's husband brought home last April, had begun to lay eggs. And, Melissa's dogs had begun finding the eggs and immediately eating them.
But after a couple of weeks of trial and error, Melissa had figured out where the goose was nesting, when she was laying her eggs, and most importantly, she started locking the dogs up during the crucial egg laying periods.
In January, when Melissa told me she was going to have two goose eggs for me when I came to drop off the chicks, I did not take a step back. I got ready to hatch Kate and Spence. I was excited about hatching the geese but had know way of knowing how much I would love the little birds.
Yesterday, we drove out to the farm to pick up one of the small incubators I'd loaned Melissa so her little boy could hatch eggs in his pre-k class. While we were there, I helped Melissa tape Kate and Spence's wings. Each goose has one wing that droops slightly. It's called Angel Wing and it's very common in growing geese. Their wings simply grow so fast that the feathers get too heavy. It doesn't hurt the geese or cause them any problems, they just have some feathers that stick out. Sometimes, taping the wings for a few days can help with give the wing a chance to strengthen.
There I am, in the green, taping Spence's wing. Spence was a true champ about the whole thing. Kate resisted the procedure a bit, but both geese were nice enough to let us tape their wings with special vet tape that only sticks to itself. We should know in a few days if the tape is helping.
Driving home, I was in my usual state of post farm visit happiness. Remembering all of our trips to the farm, I was amazed at how much had changed in just a year. I'd gone from wondering why in the world people would ever want to own a goose to believing that everyone should hatch at least one goose at some point in their life. This weekend,while we were touring the immaculate grounds of the Hyatt, I couldn't help but think that a few well placed geese would really add to the ambiance.
When we got home from the farm last night, it took several trips to carry all the eggs in from the car. Some eggs for Easter dying, some for Grace's class to hatch, and some for me to hatch. While I sit here typing this, my incubators are stuffed full with my seventh and eighth goose eggs, six banty eggs, three jersey giant chicken eggs, lots of regular chicken eggs, and yes, there will be several different hatch dates.
If all goes well, the peacocks should hatch around the middle of May...