Needless to say, I had low expectations of anything hatching on the 21st day - but then...
Twelve little chicks
Twelve little miracles later! We have mostly Australorps with some crosses with Australorp to New Hampshire and Isa Browns hens. Quite a lovely mixed bag and I was surprised to have any hatch at all. In fact, we had eight eggs which failed to hatch, although we did see them rocking on hatching day. I had written those eggs off by the morning of the 22nd day, but had kept the incubator on because I kept the last 3 chicks to dry off in there overnight. I hadn't even expected those three to live because they weren't very active and I had to help them out of their shells before they dried out.
To my surprise, they were darling little bundles of fluff by the next morning, zipping around the Hoverbator looking for attention. At this point I noticed another egg had pipped. I wasn't expecting it to hatch successfully, as the last three struggled to get out on their own. Truly, I must be an optimist when I decided to leave the incubator on to see what happened during the day. I monitored the situation for a few more hours, noticing the little beak inside was chipping away more shell. But I knew if they didn't get out soon, it would probably start drying to the shell. So by the afternoon (with a little help from me) we had another chick hatch. I didn't need to give them too much help, as they were bursting to get out!
Plus one more!
We named the chick, Omega 13, as it was the last to hatch out of thirteen chicks. I was right too, the drying process had begun, as the umbilical chord on the abdomen didn't come away. It was dry and withered, so I had to snip it off with sharp scissors. Little Omega was just happy to get out of the shell, I don't think they noticed! Not only were we surprised to get any successful hatchlings after the power outage, but we were even more surprised the very last chick to hatch came nearly a day late. Little miracles can happen every day!
As I experienced new life coming into the world against the odds, it got me thinking about my own life and how it always seems to throw up the unexpected. Life at the Grove has certainly been more than I expected. Take the floods in late 2010 and early 2011 for example. We had been building a wall for two years prior and just planted our first seedlings - mulching too, it was fantastic! Our efforts held so much promise of what was to come, only it didn't happen how we expected. We had imagined we would relax afterwards, and drink in the pleasure of watching the garden grow. Instead, a few weeks after our enormous project came to an end, a massive amount of water destroyed most of the garden and to this day, we are still clearing the silt which got dumped at the base of the wall.
Some things just don't happen according to plan. It's nothing personal, life is just a mixed bag of consequences we often find ourselves having to negotiate. There are so many things which can go wrong, and yet something good always comes out of it.
There is a new Chicken Mama in the making here. Our daughter simply loves having little chicks to take care of. She has the knack too - her skills are developing so she feels more confident around the chicks, and they see her as the new Chicken Mama. With 13 chicks to play with however, it's a virtual family daycare centre. Sometimes when we sit down to watch a show, we'll each take a chick to nurse. It's very cathartic holding a little ball of fluff to your chest and watching them slowly close their little eyes, until they fall asleep. Sometimes we'll just be talking to each other and one by one, we'll pluck a chick from the brood and hold them while we chat.
I'm sometimes tempted to say no when Sarah asks to hold a chick. I'll know she hasn't cleaned her room or even put her breakfast bowl on the sink. But somehow the excitement and anticipation in her eyes is contagious. I forget we have a messy house too, and I'll race her to pick up a chick!
Sometimes you plant a garden and it gets washed away. Sometimes you forget about the mess and learn to love the ride. Everything has a place in this mixed bag of life, and we don't have to feel out of place because of it. Sometimes there are just new challenges to negotiate. I like that I still have choices, even if things don't always go to plan. It teaches me to open my eyes more, to engage and be vital as much as I am capable. Life happens and that isn't so bad. Even when it's not exactly what we were expecting.