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: