We had a night flight—taking off at midnight(ish). I thought this would be okay, as I had kept my clock behind HK time, but it wasn’t, it was ghastly. I was travelling back economy class, and I don’t know how anyone manages to sleep sitting up—I certainly can’t, even with one of those clever curly neck-support pillows. I did try, but it was useless. Watched the entire boxset of The Little Drummer Girl and slept for about 10 minutes the entire 12-hour flight—and those 10 minutes were after they’d served breakfast and cleared away, and I was woken from my lovely deep sleep by the pilot saying we were landing. A bit of a shame that he couldn’t circle for a bit, seeing as I’d just got to sleep, but that’s life…
We arrived home about 7am, so the rest of the family was rushing to get ready for work. Nice to see them briefly before they left. The dog, of course, was ecstatic to see us, and bounced around the house shedding hair by the handful.
The hen has at last gone broody, and is sitting on the eggs outside. This means if the eggs in the incubator hatch, she should raise the chicks for me. However, the incubator was emitting a nasty smell (to be honest, I thought at first it was Husband’s socks! The incubator is in the utility room, and there was a pile of washing on the floor, and I thought that was where the horrid smell was coming from. Luckily I didn’t say anything…) The family have been keeping the water topped up for me while I was away, but that’s all I asked them to do (they are all very tolerant of my animal hobbies, but they don’t necessarily want to share them fully).
The only way to check the eggs was to take each one out of the incubator and sniff it. As I arrived home during the last 3 days, when the eggs are no longer turned and you’re supposed to keep the lid shut so the temperature and humidity stay constant, this was bad timing. But a bad egg could kill all the others, so there was no choice. I sniffed one egg that was very pongy, and another which was suspect, so removed them. No way of telling if the other eggs had been killed by the nasty fumes—or by my opening the incubator at a crucial time—just a matter of waiting until the end of the 3 days and seeing whether they hatch. Such is the precariousness of life.
I had pretty much decided that all the eggs had died, when I noticed two were trembling. When I listened, I could hear them, cheeping away inside the eggs. This is always so exciting, knowing that there is a chick inside an egg, and having to wait until it hatches before you can see it—a wrapped gift, hidden from sight. Forced myself to not open incubator again, and to just wait.
One day later, and a third egg was trembling. A tiny chip had appeared in one of the eggs – one of the Speckled Sussex eggs (which I am now pretty sure are bantams). I usually place a piece of muslin underneath, to soften the hard plastic incubator a little and so the chicks don’t waste energy by moving the eggs rather than cracking them (they would be held still in a nest). I didn’t have any muslin, so used a blue dishcloth – seemed to work.
By the third day, one chick had completely hatched and was loudly trying to persuade the others from their eggs. I took it out of the incubator a few times, so it could drink, but worried that every time I opened the lid, I was decreasing the chances of the other eggs surviving. I set up a box in the garage, under a red heat lamp, and filled it with straw. I was really hoping a second chick would have hatched, but in the end I had to put one little chick by itself into the big lonely garage. I gave it a mirror for company (it’s a chicken, they’re not known for their intelligence).
I’ll let you know if any more hatch. I hope you have some nice surprises this week.
Love, Anne x