Welcome to Antler Valley Farm

Happy Hatch Day!

Well, 21 days is incredibly long to wait for a chick to hatch if you’re a kid….or if you’re ME!!!  But we did wait!  For 21 days and 21 nights.  Just kidding.  Actually, on the 20 night we noticed one of the eggs had a chip in it from the chick trying to peck from the inside.  The kids were already in bed so I hated to wake them up, but I was excited!  I was also afraid that all the chicks would hatch at night while the kids slept and they would miss it.  That would have been VERY disappointing to say the least!  I really shouldn’t have worried about that though, cause it really didn’t happen that way at all.  It takes a while for those pip squeaks to hatch.  They aren’t in any hurry!

So, anyway, on the 20 night I kept hearing a pecking noise and hearing faint chirping sounds.  Yes, Jim thought I was crazy too!  Honestly, I did hear the chirping though!  When I got up to check I saw the chip in the egg and I was immediately convinced I needed to stay awake until it hatched.  Yeah, that lasted about an hour of me waiting and nothing happening before I got my blanket and pillow and got comfy on the couch.  I kept hearing pecking noises on and off all night.  When I would get up to check I could see very little progress though.  By morning, Easter morning, I was exhausted.  The chicks weren’t even close to hatching and of course, Camden woke up with a fever.  Great, just great.  The flu still lives on in our house apparently….That means more quarantine for us.  Lovely.  Just lovely.  At least the chicks will provide entertainment for us, right?

Maleah immediately noticed the cracking eggs when she woke up the next morning.  Ok, the chipped eggs-they certainly didn’t appear to be ready to hatch yet.  Maleah proclaimed she was on egg duty and promptly set in front of the incubator pretty much all day.  Yes, all day!  She would break out her phone at any sign of movement to video the chicks arrival into the world.  By supper time, Maleah was more than disappointed because not much had happened!  She didn’t want to go to bed but I assured her the chicks would be okay until morning.  Of course, just as soon as I got settled in bed, I heard the loudest chirping and jumped up to investigate.  Jim once again said I was hearing things, but when I turned on the kitchen lights I saw this little chick inside the incubator flopping around and chirping loudly enough to wake the entire house.  Somehow, the little chick didn’t wake any but me though!  How does that happen??  Anyway, I scooped up the wet, little chick and tried to dry her off.  (We are hoping she’s a girl!)  I turned on the heat lamp and tried to dry her and warm her.  Then I went to get Maleah.  Sleepy Maleah.  Very sleepy, sleepy Maleah.  Sleepy Maleah whose eyes lit up when she saw the chick in my hands!

Meet Midnight.  Yes, we named her midnight since she was born just after midnight.  At that time of night my brain is not feeling particularly creative so the chicken is lucky her name isn’t bird! 

We stayed up for a few hours watching Midnight and holding her.  We were in love with the little fluff ball!  Finally, hours later, we went to bed.  Shortly before lunch the next day, the second chick started breaking through her shell.  (Again, we are praying for girls!)  It had taken so long for the chicks to hatch I was a little concerned the chick wouldn’t have enough energy left to hatch so we gently, very gently broke off small pieces of the outer shell with a pair of tweezers to aid her arrival into the big new world of Carter Crazy.  Poor chick!

Meet Bumblebee.  Camden is really into Transformers right now and Bumblebee is his favorite.  So we named this big lady Bumblebee for Camden.  

Bumblebee was a monster chick compared to Midnight.  He towered over her!  Please don’t be a rooster!  Please don’t be a rooster!  Please!!!  While the kids were playing with Midnight and Bumblebee they almost forgot about the other eggs.  I just happened to walk by and was astounded that the top of one of the eggs was nearly completely fractured all the way around the egg.  We reached in and pulled the egg out just in time for Rey (she has the Force!) to literally pop out of her shell.  It was one of the coolest things!!

That is sweet little Rey in the back.  By the time Rey hatched I was so tired I forgot to get a picture of her!  Geez, it was like labor and delivery all over again!  It was exhausting, but at least we had 3 little fluff balls to cuddle with!

Sweet, little Rey was what they named the last chick to hatch.   Sweet, little Rey….Until the next night when she chirped every time we left the room.  I’m not kidding!  That little chick has some attachment issues!  She constantly wants to be held and be right with you.  Even now at almost 5 weeks old she follows the kids everywhere when we let her out and she will fly up into your hand.  If you try to walk away from her she jumps, runs and flies right behind you or onto your feet to stop you.  She is somewhat spoiled, I think.  I really pray she isn’t a rooster!!!!

We had read that we needed to wait until day 25 before counting the eggs as a loss and removing them from the incubator.  Well, day 25 came and I had to know if the eggs had formed chicks or not.  Was the humidity off so much that they couldn’t hatch or was something else wrong and they never formed?  The first 2 eggs we cracked were not formed at all.  Just a pile of yolk really.  The last chick however was fully formed.  He was also a monster chick like Bumblebee.  It made us sad that we hadn’t tried to help him hatch.  Maybe we could saved him.  Maybe not.  But it was sad to think that he was that close to hatching and didn’t.  So sad.  It would have been nice to have a fourth chick.

Okay, I think I left out part of the story here.  So, let me back up a minute and fill you in.  Since Camden and Jim weren’t feeling well (that pesky flu is never ending!!) and Maleah was on egg watch, Maylin and I had went to town on Sunday, Easter Sunday.   Somehow, I was talked into buying 6 more chicks!  Happy Easter!  Or is buying 6 more chicks the April Fool’s part?  I’ll let you know in a few weeks!  (Let’s just say that it was more April Fool’s Day and someone somewhere had some fun that day!  I will provide the pictures and the full story in a few weeks!  If you didn’t get a good April Fool’s joke to laugh at this year, please feel free to laugh at ours.  Or laugh at us!!  I’m sure I will be laughing in years to come!)

Jim and I were concerned that the eggs wouldn’t all hatch in the incubator.  Even if all 6 did manage to hatch, the odds were to have 3 hens and 3 roosters.  Well, we certainly don’t need half roosters.  Honestly, we don’t really want any roosters!!  So, I was talked into buying 6 pullets, which are day old chicks that have been sexed as females.  Let’s just cross our fingers and hope that the person sexing those tiny day old chicks drank a hefty portion of coffee that morning and was on their “A game” that day!   Otherwise, we might have even more roosters from that bunch of chicks.  Or….since it was April Fool’s Day….we might have something else entirely….HA!

  This is our some of our new little chicks.  Maylin wanted to pick from the colorful bin that was designated as “High Production, Egg-Laying Pullets” but didn’t have the specific names listed.  She loved the different colors so we ended up with 2 of each color.   I tried to persuade her to go with the Rhode Island Red bin.  At least I knew what they looked like!  If only, I had insisted on the chicks that I knew….When will I ever learn???

While 9 (Yes, 9!!!) chicks continued to take over our front porch, the 30 caterpillars were still taking over my counter in the kitchen.  They were spinning their silk and attaching to the top of the lids in their chrysalis.  Now that they are safely tucked into their transition sleeping bags we just have to wait another week or so for them to emerge as butterflies.  Then we can let them enjoy their beauty as they fly away.  However, apparently having that many caterpillars on our counter is just too much.  So far they’ve been hit by flying balls.  They’ve had cups dropped on them.  Some of them have even taken a journey through my house so I could check that they were still “quiet and still”.  It will be a miracle if even half of these caterpillars turn into butterflies at this rate!

So we lost 3 out of 6 of the incubated eggs and at least 3 of the caterpillars so far.  Yikes!  Those are not good odds.  A 50% loss rate for the eggs and almost a 10% loss rate for the caterpillars.  That’s pretty sad!  I wonder how my children have survived this long???


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