Thursday, November 22, 2007


We've had our hopefully first of many snow falls (cause we need it) and today the girls had the first day out. We had put their new Omlet long winter cover on them and it seems very dark in there. We're having to pull their water in every night to keep it from freezing solid. We put it out in the morning and it stays a liquid (so far) through the day. When it starts freezing in the day then they're going in the greenhouse.

Today I rubbed some vaseline on Victoria and Sylvia's combs and wattles but Penelope eluded me up until we had to leave for Thanksgiving dinner. I hate chasing the girls around the garden and it just gets them, the dog and myself all worked up. So, I figure I'll just wait till tomorrow to get her little comb done.

The girls were walking around in the snow without too much fuss. I guess it doesn't bother their feet, I wasn't sure if it would. They did however spend most of their time outside today in a patch of the garden that was thawed but maybe it's just because of the good eats!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sad day today.

Well, we gave up today. It was the 23rd day and still no action. Everyone is broken hearted. The whole household is very down. I unplugged the incubator when we got home from seeing a Peter Pan elementary school production. I removed the eggs and placed them gently in the garbage bin. Part of me wanted to open them and see what had happened but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I've been preparing myself since Friday that nothing was going to happen. I'd look in and see no action and not be surprised. It was easier to expect nothing rather then keeping my hopes up and being crushed all over again. It's sadder still because we're all set up for chicks and the kids were so excited as well.

We came to a family decision. We talked about it and decided to go with chicks instead of eggs. We just couldn't go through this heartbreak all over again. I checked online tonight on Murray McMurray's site to see what chicks would be available and I saw that they'd posted chicks for spring availability and we decided to go for it. We picked out chicks! So I guess it's a bittersweet day. A little patience and come February we'll be knee high in 25 baby chicks! It's a sure thing going with baby chicks no more heartbreak of 21 days with no results. This is instant gratification, well sort of (3 months later). But this way the chicks will be 4 months old and ready to go outside by the time the snow starts melting. We ordered 5 female Salmon Favorelles, 5 White Cochins, 5 St. run Dark Brahma, 5 St. run Blue Cochins and 5 St. run Partridge Cochins. St. Run are male and females (you don't have any idea what you're going to get). We'll raise them all and then when the males get to big we'll find them homes.

On a lighter side: We had another 3 egg day! The girls were busy digging a hole in their run this morning while I was sleeping in. They almost dug under their predator proof wiring. It comes 6"out flat on the ground from the run to deter predatory animals from digging around/into the run. I filled it in and placed a rock on top of the wiring to keep the girls safe.

We also received notice that our new chicken hutch/coop will arrive in 7-14 days from the Boston depot.

I want to say thanks to everyone that's been following our story and wishing us the best, we'll continue to post until we get the new chicks since we've got three beautiful hens to chat about and share their stories and pictures throughout the winter.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Candled all the eggs.

So I candled all the eggs because it's not looking good. We had 18 eggs to start with and 5 were not fertilized at all (mostly the tiny eggs). There were 7 embryo deaths; looks like a range of 5 days to 9 days. You can tell that they've died because of a ring around the egg, it's caused by the blood leaving the embryo. There are five eggs left but 3 out of the five look like they have an air pocket, which shouldn't be there. The chick should be taking up the entire egg and using the air for it's first breaths. So I guess we'll see tomorrow what will happen.

21st day

Well, today at 4pm was the 21st day and I'm a little heartbroken because we've had no activity. I've read that if the incubator is at a lower temperature then the recomended 102F, then the hatch may be late a day. The incubator has not stayed at a constant 102F the whole time the eggs have been in there. It's been extremely frustrating. The temperature has fluctuated between 99F-102F up and down periodically. I've had to keep adjusting it maunally from the beginning. I'm not sure if it's a faulty incubator or if that's normal. I woke up at 3 am this morning in antisipation of something but alas, nothing. Today I got home from a food show at 5:30pm and expected to see something and there was nothing and the temp was close to 98F! How frustrating, I wanted to cry. Today was supposed to be the day and nothing. Tomorrow it's all or nothing. I guess if we fail we'll wait to try it again next summer or just go with chicks.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Adding more water.

This is where the chicks are at now and I can't believe that they're crammed in the egg like that. I've added more water today into the second trough the ("T" trough). To increase the humidity for the hatch. We've also removed one of the two red plastic caps to increase the oxygen flow because we're at high altitude and want to make sure the embryos have plenty of oxygen to exchange. In some places you want to be sure that there isn't too much moisture but up here it's so dry that we're not worried about that. Tomorrow I go pick up the feeders, water dispensors and wood chips for the chicks. The brooder guard, the brooder thermometer and our chick starter mix arrived today from McMurray Hatchery. I can't believe it's going to happen already. It's so exciting. As soon as it starts happening we'll post pictures! If you have kids this is a great site I found. It's hosted by the Sacremento Zoo and has so much information and great activities to do with the kids. Go check it out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2+ more days and counting!

Two + more days to go. I removed the automatic turner this morning, given that it was a little over the 18th day. I put the eggs in at 4pm on October 26th and figured it took at least 3-4 hours for the eggs to get up to temperature. I started counting from the 27th being day 1 of 21 putting the hatch date on the 16th of November. But figuring the hatch date from October 26th, November 15th would be the hatch date around 7pm - ish. I put some unprinted newspaper paper on the bottom of the incubator, but not to cover the entire thing. I wanted to make sure that there was plenty of space for the humidity to get to the eggs/ chicks. The chicks will need the paper to assist in standing and walking. I a surface is too slippery they can injure their legs easily. I laid the eggs on their sides and the narrow/ smaller end tilted down and it was hard to keep them from rolling around a bit. I have to do everything to keep from hovering over the incubator and watching for anything, a sudden movement of some sort. But minute after minute nothing moves. No pipping. 2 more days!!! What am I going to do? I just have to get out of the house as much as possible.

Monday, November 12, 2007

4 days left!!

We're busy getting ready for the chicks. With only 4 days left there's a lot to get done. I have already ordered my brooder heater and thermostat control unit from From McMurray hatchery I ordered my cardboard brooder ring and thermometer. I've candled the eggs two more times and can't believe the rapid growth. The embryos are almost doubling in size every day. I'm having trouble keeping the incubator at 102F it keeps coming down and settling on 100F. Which is scary since everything I read says we may have a late hatch and there may be problems with the chicks. Tomorrow I remove the automatic turner and lay the eggs down on their sides. You do not turn the eggs in the last three days of the hatch! This can cause many problems. Pretty exciting! The kids ask everyday "how many more days"? They can't wait. The excitement is growing and growing. Even our house guest is totally excited!

The girls outside are still happy, frisky and laying!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Jumping Chickens!

The girls started doing the funniest thing yesterday, I went into the green house to harvest them some greens and they ran over to meet me at the path. When they saw the spinach they started jumping off the ground to get the greens in my hand. I thought it was the funniest thing ever so I had to post some pictures of it.
Air Chickens!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Our First Three Egg Day!

Our Flock:

Today we had our first three egg day. All three girls are laying now! Sylvia and Penelope laid early this morning, before 10am and Victoria laid after noon. I'm still in shock. I never thought it would ever happen since it usually takes up to 25 hours for an egg to form. It's pretty exciting and I think I'm going to do some baking with them, since we have quite an accumulation. Over 10 eggs stockpiled since Friday morning.

The New Clutch:

I added more water today into the incubator since it was almost out. I guess I let it go too long with out checking, it's only been a couple of days though. It's very difficult to see the water well through the automatic turner. We candled the eggs today with a homemade candler. We made a cone with dark paper and left a 1" hole at one end and stuck our maglight flashlight in the other end. I put the eggs up to the end of the cone with the 1" hole and counted 10 out of the eighteen eggs fertilized and growing embryos. Which is more then I expected because some of the eggs are so tiny. We were only expecting the 12 eggs so we have more chickens then we expected. One of the eggs looks as if the embryo is sticking to the side of the egg shell so we'll most likely lose that one. Good site to check out for embryonic development is:

It's totally amazing that a fully formed chick starts to pip out after only 21 days. If you think about it, they're pretty evolved for such a short period of time. We bid and won on ebay on a different kind of coop to house the Bantams in. Like the eglu it has an attached run and the whole thing is enclosed and covered by a solid roof. The coop is also off the ground to protect against predators and from draft. There is a ramp that the chickens can walk up and down into the coop. My husband just wanted to combine all the chickens together, but this is a big no no. Salmon Favorelles are very docile so they tend to be picked on (literally) by other breeds and they're are a Bantam breed so they're about half the size of our other chickens. We want to keep every body healthy and happy.

We have a 40 gallon tank that we will put the chicks in as a brooder and when they've grown out of it, we will use a cardboard barrier (which can be found on McMurray Hatcheries website). We're waiting for the omelt people to start importing their large coop and run the "cube". It houses about 10 birds. It's pretty sweet and colorful! Go check it out at

This is where we should be now:

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Peneolpe is Laying!!!

Yesterday was my birthday and what a great present, I went outside to check on the girls and Penelope was missing! I immediately went into a panic looking to see if she could have dug her way out of the predator proof fencing. No holes and then much to my surprise, Penelope's little face came poking around the eglu door from the nest. Probably to investigate whether or not she was missing out on some goods. I waited anxiously to see if she had laid. She came bolting out of the eglu right to the food and sure enough there it was! A teeny little egg, reminiscent of when Victoria and Sylvia started laying. I felt like such a proud parent! Penelope is the most spunky of the flock and she loves to chase the other girls. She runs across the yard with her feathers flying and goes darting toward the other birds. I thought it was a dominating behavior but it's strange that it's coming from her since she's the youngest and the lowest in the pecking order. So now it's been a two egg day, two days in a row!

Our new full length shade came as well yesterday and my long awaited door pin for the front door of their run. DHL delivered my box a bit bashed up. We were missing a corner square piece for the run and the door pin. Omlet sent them out no questions asked but they had to come from the UK so it took a little while. Yea I now get my screw driver back!

The clutch in the incubator is still doing their thing. I don't have a candling tool to check the eggs so it's going to be a waiting game. I keep checking in there for what I don't know. It feels kind of silly since there isn't going to be any action for two weeks. Maybe it's the mothering instinct to check in every once in a while. Surprise surprise, their still there!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Still adjusting...

I'm still having to adjust the temperature on the incubator about twice a day. Checked the water level. From what I've read, it's better to have less water in the first couple of weeks and add to the amount later on in the last week for hatching. The turner is working well and when I pop by to take a look at the thermometer it's changed positions again and again. It's funny now how I was nervous that it wasn't working. We have eighteen eggs in there right now and we're so excited. The eggs are about half the size of "normal" grocery store eggs and cream colored. Can't wait to see how many hatch. We're hoping for at least a 50% hatch.

Yesterday we had 2 eggs in the morning (pretty exciting!) and today there was only one. We're hoping that Penelope will start laying soon so we can have two egg days all the time. Her comb is just coming in so we're thinking that in a couple of weeks now. The girls were accidentally locked out of their coop this morning around 7:30am and when I came out around 10:45am to let them out for a while there were no eggs. So I opened the eglu door and Sylvia went right in there and when I came back out at 11:45am there was an egg. I was so surprised that she would wait to lay in her usual spot instead of laying out in the run. In some books I've read chickens have been known to lay eggs in the garden if you let them out to roam in the am - so imagine my surprise when she went back in to lay right away. The girls were ravenous this afternoon when I let them out to free range, little chicken maniacs! They did not want to go back in when it came time for me to start dinner.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Automatic Turner

Here's a picture of the clutch so far!

I was a little freaked out by the slowness of the automatic turner and it seemed that every time I checked the temperature of the incubator the turner was still in the same position. It rotates every four hours and I just happen to check it when it was back in that position. This morning however, it was in a different position so my worries went away. I did have to adjust the temp a couple of times today. I think that's going to continue. The girls were so funny this morning. They bolted out of the run and made a mess in the garden. I caught them ripping up my strawberry plants so I relocated them to the asparagus that had bolted they seemed happy with that.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Welcome to Our Flock!

Welcome to our Flock!

We wanted to track the incubation and the (hopefully) hatching of our clutch (don't count your chickens before they hatch) sorry I couldn't resist! We also wanted to provide information from our experience which hopefully someone can use and gain from. I've found a lot of information on the net but not from personal experience so we wanted to try to fill that gap a bit.

First off a little information about our flock. We live in Colorado - in the high country and started this summer with three hens which we got from a friend. They were still young - grown but not laying yet, I belive they're called pullets. Our girls live in an pink eglu which we purchased from omlet ( I'm a chef and had read about the eglu and keeping urban chickens in Gourmet magazine years ago. It was something that I had always wanted to do but never had the space to do it. So long story short, in our attempt to go as green as possible, we started growing our own veggies. This last summer we put in a greenhouse and with it, started having an extensive infestation of grasshoppers and slugs (yuck!). They eat EVERYTHING!

We've had a composter for a couple of years but we needed some kind of natural pest control, the next logical step, to me (the man took some convincing) was to get some chickens to naturally balance our garden. The girls are awesome, even our dog thinks so (we have a 93lb akita rottie mix). It took some training on his part but he's doing spectacular with them. We named our girls Victoria, Penelope (2 Barred Plymouth Rock hens) and Sylvia (an Australorp). The girls are so much softer then we ever imagined. Victoria is the most tame and she follows me around the garden waiting for me to over turn a rock or two hopefully awaiting to enjoy some slugs. They are hilarious. The children love them. We started getting eggs two weeks ago and it is still so amazing when I open up the eglu and there's an egg sitting there. A small gift but a large treasure. I made a huge batch of banana bread with our first weeks worth of eggs. The family enjoyed the bread immensely.

Our Salmon Faverolles: We received our eggs on Wednesday afternoon via fed ex after being purchased from ebay of all places. I finally resolved to purchase our eggs on ebay because every where I had been searching had been sold out for the season. We also didn't want 25 chicks because we don't have enough space for that many chickens. All the hatcheries I looked at and the private breeders would not send less then 25 chicks at a time, because the chicks need to keep each other warm during their travels. We decided on Bantam Salmon Faverolles because of everything I've read about them, but mostly because of their good and affectionate nature. The fact that their damn cute is a total bonus! This breed was also a good option because of their capability to withstand colder climates (due to their feathered feet).

Check them out:

Today I set up our Hovabator with the automatic egg turner. I started around 11am and waited and waited for hours for the temperature to stabilize before adding the tempered eggs (temper to room temperature 70F before placing in the incubator). Our breeder sent them in an egg carton each egg individually wrapped in paper towel (for extra protection) we received 18 eggs when we only ordered 12 (very nice of her!) Since we have a still air model we set it at 102F (with a circulator you go with a lower temperature 100F). I had been storing the eggs in the coldest room of the house (low 60's high 50's). I hadn't realized that we could store the eggs for up to 2 weeks without incubating. Found a ton of information on the internet mostly on university sites. This is a good one: So the eggs went in at approximately 4pm and we'll keep our fingers crossed.

Here are some pictures I found of Salmon Favorelles: