Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hatching new life

It's that time of year again, when the Hoverbator gets switched on and a new clutch of eggs are set. I tried an unsuccessful batch much earlier, but our new rooster hadn't quite reached maturity to fertilise the eggs. About a month later we collected a new batch of eggs to set. I still wasn't sure if he was doing the job properly, but we had seen him in the "act" with his lady hens. There was about four days to go until they were meant to hatch, and a storm took out the power for ten hours. I covered the Hoverbator with a blanket but the temperature went right down to 22 degrees Celsius.

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.


  1. Oh, I just loved this post! That one forlorn chick, still wet and leaning against the side of something was touching. Then, the little chick leaning beak to cheek with your daughter was so sweet.

    Another blogger had chicks hatch beyond the due date and after adversity and chilling of the eggs. I am so glad you left the incubator on longer.

  2. They are so cute! Sarah looks so much like you too!

    I think we have to realize that choice is always there. Sometimes, when things get rough we only see ourselves up against a wall but that is rarely true. I am telling my son this now-its a lesson he must learn on his way to adulthood. Its a good lesson.

  3. Hi Linda, the forlorn chick was itching to get out of the incubator, that's why I snapped them with their head poking over the side. They just wanted some company as it was the only one left in there.

    When I knew they had dried off enough and unfurled their feet, I return them to the brood. They're all quite a spritely bunch now! :)

    I'm glad to hear another blogger had a successful hatch after similar circumstances. You do worry a little until hatching day.

  4. LOL LindaM, I was thinking the same thing about Sarah looking more like me now. I snapped another picture with the chick, and she looked just like my older sister!

    Must be something in the genes, LOL.

    Mentioning you son just now, reminded me of the news he had gotten that job he was after. I'm really glad he got it and feeling bad I didn't congratulate him when you made the announcement on your blog.

    I was meaning to, but I got caught up with losing power and stressing about the chicks. I absolutely know you're not the kind of person to hold a grudge, but I still feel bad for forgetting to congratulate him about the good news! It was great news to hear. :)

  5. Hi Chris. Don't worry about not congratulating B. sooner! But thank you for remembering. Thats very sweet.
    What happened with your power outage? Thats if you feel like talking about it.

  6. Oh they are so gorgeous and what a lovely tale- congratulations on a great result under difficult circumstances! Now we both have 13 chicks, although mine are much less fluffy now and more like wild and ever-hungry teenagers.... :-)

  7. Oh the storm wasn't a big deal here. We had moderate to heavy rainfall, but the drama which took the power out was further away.

    There's a little electricity transfer station which supplies a few large suburbs. There's quite a lot of power lines between them all and plenty of opportunity for lines to do down in bad weather.

    I'm not sure if they had to switch the transfer station off to repair the damaged power lines, but there were quite a few suburbs which lost power from 5pm to nearly 3am.

    And I was just about to start cooking dinner when it went out too, LOL. Thankfully Dave brought some leftovers from work, talk about great timing! ;)

  8. I was wondering how your clutch of chicks were going MW. Ravenous teenagers sounds familiar - that's when they develop hollow legs and eat you out of house and home.

    Well, at least the chicken variety do! ;)

    I'd love to see an update of how your brood is going. :)


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