As the temperature is dropping outside I am less keen to spend a lot of time in the garden and I now have the perfect reason to stay inside and keep warm. The chicks are about to hatch!
At the tail end of last year I chose which breeds I would hatch for the first batch to add to our ever-changing flock (read about my choices here) and the next forty-eight hours should see the arrival of our first chicks for 2017.
I will update my blog as the hatch progresses, but I'll post more regular updates on Twitter, so if you want to see the news as it happens, please follow me on Twitter @Liz_Zorab or search for my hashtag #hatchwatch2017. The link on the right hand column of this blog should work (but with all things technical, I can't guarantee that I've set it up correctly!).
I wasn't expecting to see any progress today, they aren't due to begin hatching until tomorrow, but as so often happens one little chick seems extra-keen to enter the world and has already pipped. As I understand it, chicks need to break a hole in the membrane that is inside the egg, they then have a little air to breathe while they break a small hole in the shell. Often this appears as just a crack, but it seems to be enough to allow air into the egg for it to breathe (this is what is called pipping). Then over the next day or so it makes more and more holes in the shell in a line that eventually splits the eggshell into two and with some shoving and heaving it manages to push the two sections of shell apart and ta-da, it has hatched.
Sitting in the kitchen over a cuppa and slice of cake with Alison (from Alison's Animals) I could hear faint cheeping noises, so I knew that at least one chick was making a bid for freedom. If I'd thought more carefully about it, I could have invited Alison to come for a cuppa tomorrow so that she could watch them hatching too. For anyone who isn't familiar with the name, Alison is a well-known animal cartoon artist, you will probably have seen her work on placemats, calendars, cards and mugs. I am very impressed by folks who can draw as my hand/eye coordination is dreadful and so I appreciate what a great talent it is to have (and Alison is certainly very talented).
I'm sure that the temperature has dropped again this afternoon. As I was giving the birds some corn (I was wrapped up like a Michelin Man yet again) and the tree surgeon arrived with another trailer load of well composted wood chippings. Hopefully the weather will be warmer in after the weekend and I will be able to move some of the compost to the raised beds. In the meantime, I plan to spend as little time as possible outside and as much as possible sitting in the kitchen watching new life emerge from little eggshells. And to that end, I think it's time to put the kettle on and make a cuppa!
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