Thursday 28 June 2018

This morning

I was expecting to be woken very early by Faye.  I hadn't closed the pop hole, because of the heat.   Usually this means they get up at about 4am, and Sasha and Faye start whingeing straight away.  This morning, there was nothing until someone - Fleur I think - started crowing at about 6.   She stopped after a few goes,  so I went back to sleep.

DH went down to make a cup of tea,  and I got up at about 7.45 to see what the Sasha Situation was.

She as alive.  She looked reasonable, although not right. She refused food and water.  Her tail was up, but her wings were down.  I picked her up and she felt cool.  I took her out to the run, and watched to see what happened.

She went to the drinker and drank.  Quite a lot.  Then she stood for  while,  and then she jumped up on the garden chair which acts as one of their many perches.    I left her there.

She's been OK during the day, and her wings are returning to their normal position.  She's a bit quiet, so not completely well,  but she looks OK.

We've left the Intensive Care suite made up in the kitchen.


The Big Girls have been suffering with the heat.  Gloria has been physically panting;   Fleur and Gloria have diarrhoea; Poppy is still broody;   Sasha and Faye have been OK.

I've been giving Fleur and Gloria a little yoghurt each day, laced with Nutridops.  Sasha and Faye have had a small amount too. Poppy has had a little, but not so interested.

I've been feeding them lettuces, and some watermelon, during the day.   We changed their free ranging area - DH mowed the grass especially - so that they have access to all the area under the trees at the back of their run. This also gives them more under-hedge space,  so adds to the amount of shade they already had.

Sasha had been in the nest box for a long time.  I opened it up to have a look,  and she was in there looking very unwell.  She was so very hot.   I shut the nest box door, and ran into the house.  I pulled some old towels out of out old towel basket,  put them in a bucket, and covered them with cool water.  Not too cold,  I didn't want to risk shock.

Back at the coop , I lifter Sasha out of the coop and onto a towel, I wrapped it over her, covered her head with a small towel, and held her carefully.  The towel was baking.  She dozed off (which wasn't a good sign). I swapped it for another one.  I put a small towel underneath each wing. 

When she was cooler, I let her go.   I then went and gave Fleur and Gloria a wet towel treatment.  They seemed to enjoy it.  Poppy didn't want it, so I let her go.  I couldn't catch Faye.

I noticed that Sasha had gone back in the nest box, and when I opened the door, she had her head underneath Poppy.

I took her in the house, and sat with her on my lap, both of us getting soaked in wet towels.  I syringed some water (laced with Avipro) into her, but she didn't want to drink.   After nearly an hour of towel changing, she had cooled down,  and I put her back in the run.  Faye came and tried to peck her head.  

I picked Sasha up, took her back in to the house, and this time I put her in a sink with some cool (not cold) water.   She was again covered in a towel, and this time I used the kitchen spray,m on low,  and sprayed the towel.   Spraying her directly would be too painful for her, and I also needed to be careful about the temperature of the water.

As the sink filled, she sat down,  and gradually got very drenched. She was dozing, and I held her head so she didn't drown.   I syringed more water in to her,   a tiny bit at a time, stopping each time to let her 'swallow'.    She looked in a bad way.

I've had a hen with heatstroke before.  Years ago Milly, our horrible horrible bully hen,  suffered from it  and I had been through this with her.  She survived, and had been in a worse state than Sasha.

Eventually,  she seemed much cooler.   She sat there,  most unlike her.    I put her in a dry towel, and we made up a dog crate in the kitchen for her.  Water,  chick crumb, Alfamix chick, in pots.    When she was drier,  I put her in the crate.   She stood there, tail and wings down,  looking very unwell. She wasn't interested in the water, which was the most worrying thing.

Things didn't change much during the evening.  She stood in one place,  and I was preparing myself for coming down in the morning to find her dead.

She didn't die.

She looked better,   but still didn't look right.  She wasn't eating or drinking,  She was dry, of course.   I put her back in the run with the others. She had a long, long drink.   Then she stood around a bit.  A few minutes later, she was on the arm of the chair.

And an hour later,  she's squawking in response to Faye's egg announcement.

She looks better.  Here's hoping.

Wednesday 27 June 2018


We're now at pre-teen stage.

The chicks know their own minds, thank you very much.   They understand treats and the treat bowl,  and we now have 9 of the 10 who come to be picked up. They no longer queue patiently they barge into each other and jostle.

Number 6,  the youngest and coincidentally the smallest, chick has cast off his shyness and manages to be number 3 or 4 in the picky up and treat games.       We've started lap training which has nothing to do with circuits,  it's getting them to sit (stand) on our laps while we stroke them.    

Of course they don't stay on our laps,  but those that leap off usually just go round and round the outside of the chicken run.   A couple of them, however,  have realised that there is a world beyond the run.  One of the little black chicks is particularly adept at running off.

A couple of days ago, it ran off, got caught, flew out of my hands, climbed up the outside of the run (The Wrong Trousers style) and stood on the top.  S/he then flew off the top of the run, landing in front of a surprised cat.  

Luckily for all concerned,  Wash showed great restraint.  He rolled over so his back was to the tempting morsel.

That night, none of the chicks woudl stay in the bucket.  As dast as I put them in there (with food), another would hop out.  I had a sea of chicks running around., flapping.   Wash, who was lying nearby and who was concentrating hard on not looking at the chicks,  started to twitch.  Then he jumped up and walked away, round th eother side of the Pampas.   Out of the way of temptation, I think.

I threw some Alfamix Chicks in the run and most of them ran in.   We had to carry the chicks back to the shed two by two.

More work on getting them to use the ladder today, I think.  Once a few of them have mastered it, we'll be able to consider putting the chicks outside overnight (with an electric hen if necessary).

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Chicks in the sun

The chicks are enjoying the freedom of the grass run.

 It's so hot, we've put up the table shade to cast more shade on them.

Brotherly Love

My latest birthday card make

Before During After

DH has spent ages sanding down the garden table and chairs.  The mouse sander is great for this, but it takes its toll on the hands.

L: before; C: sanded unrtreated; D finished
The difference is startling.

DH has said he might do a second coat... but as he's also planning on doing the swing and the companion set,  I think he'll have had enough long before then.

Saturday 23 June 2018

4ish weeks

The older chicks are now 4 weeks old;  the next 5 are 5 dys younger,  and the youngest is 3 weeks.

They're outside, in a secure run,  for as much of the time as the weather allows.  It needs to be dry and warm, so some days they've been out for about 7 hours, otherdays they haven't been out at all. 

The shed brooder has been extended again.  We've now removed the plastic stuff that we use to make it round (or oval),  and we've put weldmesh panels along the open bit to make it harder for the enterprising youngsters to fly up and perch.

Hand taming is coming along really well.   7 or 8 of the ten now rush to be picked up when they see me get the treat bowl out. The treats are actually just Garvo Alfa Chick feed, but they get very excited about it.

It's great when I want to catch them to take them outside, or to catch them to bring them back in again.  I hope it continues as they get older.

The remaining 2 or 3 just don't really want to be picked up, which is fair enough.  I usually end up taking the 7 or 8 who do out to the garden,  and then come back for the stragglers.  If there's one straggler,  s/he cheeps loudly and pitifully when it realises it's left on its own.   I usually leave it alone while I take the feeders out, and then come back and catch it.

This tactic has sort of worked with Number 6, who is the youngest and one of the stragglers.   He's still one of the last 2 or 3 to be picked up,  but he hasn't been the last one for some time.

One of the smallest black ones,   so one of the youngest,   acts unlike the others.  S/he doesn't want to be picked up, which is OK.  If she ends up on her own, s/he doesn't cheep loudly.  Today she was left on her own while I conveyed the others (7 then 2) out to the garden run.   I came back in to the shed to get her, to find her perched up on the top of the weldmesh, waiting.    S/he's an interesting one.

Back in the run,  a couple of them (Penguin - who is the Leghorn/Legbar cross from a bought-in egg,  and a little black one - possibly the interesting one mentioned earlier) have tried climbing the ladder up to the coop.  Neither made it to the top, even though the pop hole was open.  

Once the group starts to take an active interest in going up and down the steps then we can consider moving them to the outside coop.   It's only possible to even vaguely consider this if the weather forecast is warm and dry,  and even then we would still have an electric hen on in the coop itself.

Otherwise, they'll stay in the shed overnight.

Wednesday 20 June 2018


For most of my adult life, I've been excellent at resisting procrastination.    I realised very early on that procrastination is the thief of time and that it's much better to just get on with things.  

All the effort spent in putting them off is just wasted time, energy and emotion.

I've always excelled at working out exactly why I'm tempted to procrastinate (don't really want to do something,  don't know how,  don't agree with it,   etc etc).  And then I've always dealt with the issue and not allowed myself to procrastinate.

I've never had the luxury of time to procrastinate before.

Now I have time on my hands, and I've lost the ability to decisively make myself just get on with it.  I still recognise immediately if I'm in danger of procrastinating,  and I still work out exactly why i'm procrastinating.. I've just lost the ability to stop myself actually procrastinating.

I'm doing it now. Procrastinating.

The very act of thinking about it,  complaining about it,  googling images to see if any match up with me,  writing about it... it's all procrastination.

I think confessing it here is my way of trying to give myself a boot up the backside.

Tuesday 19 June 2018


The chicks are 3ish weeks old now, and are feathering up well. They are growing quickly, and we've been putting them outside when it is sunny enough (and not too windy). 

Yesterday they were out for nearly 5 hours.  They have a secure run, food & water and grit,  shelter,  and an electric hen.   They don't use the hen very often, although they do try and all sit on the top sometimes.

When they are in the Shed brooder, I spend a lot of time (and patience) trying to get them to feel comfortable being handled.   I now have about 6 of the ten who will wait for me to pick them up.  The reward is a food treat (actually the lovely Garvo Alfa Chick feed which they love).. Several of them will come back repeatedly and stand waiting to be gently scooped up and rest on the palm of my hand.  One or two don't mind being picked up, but they don't want to lie in the palm of my hand.

Yesterday I practiced picking them up while they were in the grass run.  That went OK, but it's hard lying on the ground for so long!

While they were out I cleaned out the brooder.  It wasn't really dirty, but it was a bit smelly - mainly from the excavated food that gets damp and then warm.

Alittle while later, it looks much the same as it did before.

Friday 15 June 2018


I use a large trug bucket to move the chicks from the shed brooder to the outside run.

Yesterday, some of the chicks dicovered that if they flapped really hard, they could get to the top of the bucket.  What one chick discovers, quickly becomes common knowledge.  Catching them to take them out was a pain.  Catching them to put them back had to be done in relays.

They haven't discovered the dust bath yet, which has been in the outside run for them the last couple of times they've been out.

Maybe today?


Wednesday we went to London to see Strictly Ballroom.  I love the film, seen it more times than I can count,  and I got tickets for us to celebrate my sister in law's significant birthday.    My sister in law and brother told me, as we walked to the theatre, that they had no idea what it was about.

It was magnificent.  Fantastic.    It made me want to watch the film yet again.  I didn't, I lent the DVD to my brother and sister in law.

Yesterday, I was tired.    I did some faffing about of a few things,  usual domestics, etc.  DH had to work,  and I snuck in watching a really ancient black and white film I'd recorded ages ago.  It was so old that John Laurie ("We're doomed!") was a less than middle aged man.

I put the chicks out for a a couple of hours, faffed about some more, and finally cooked dinner.

It was hot, so we had the back door open.    Our neighbour has a lot of barbecues,  so heavily scented air isn't unusual.    We ate our dinner the smell got stronger. Sweeter.  Odder.

I went outside.  I couldn't smell it outside. I came in, and I could smell it.  It must be something in our house!

It was.

It was the pea saucepan.  I'd scooped out some peas, and I had left a few in the tiny bit of water I use in peas, and I hadn't turned off the hob.  Worse, I'd left the plastic sievey spoon in there.

It wasn't pretty.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Sayonara Siouxsie

Souxsie Sioux, our oldest Girl, died today.  She was just under 9 years old.

Siouxsie and her sisters, NotNorman and Pogo (and their half sister Norman)  were all absolutely stunning girls.  They laid small, shiny eggs;  they were all of good temperament.   Their parents were sold to me as Dorkings, but we think there was something not right in the parent's parentage.  The resulting chicks markings were spot on,  but they were small,  had yellow legs, laid brown eggs,  and didn't have 5 toes.   It didn't matter though, they were lovely girls.

Siouxie was named after Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees. She got her name because she used to shriek like a Banshee, and it was how we could tell her apart from NotNorman and Pogo.    She never much liked being picked up,  but as she slowed down a bit over the last few years she seemed to not mind too much.    In the last year or so, we always made sure that she got more than her fair share of corn, or any other treat  we happened to have.

When Henry was the cockerel, she avoided catching his eye, and none of her eggs were fertilised.  She was very much near the bottom of the pecking order,  probably due to her small stature, her good nature,  and her advanced years.

Since Bertie appeared on the scene, she went from being bottom of the pecking order to being much nearer the top.  He favoured her somewhat, which I regretted  little;  at 8 years old she didn't really need the attention.    The change in status was good to see though, and at night, she would be perched right next to Bertie.   

One of our hatched eggs this year was from a Siouxsie egg. and it's the first time we've ever hatched from them.   I really hope it's a girl.

DH had to do the deed, and was very upset by it.   Siouxsie was such a sweet, unassuming little hen,  she had a special place in his heart.

She will be very missed.

Sunday 10 June 2018

First outing

The age difference is showing.   The oldest chicks have fully feathered wings, and are racing up and down the brooder with their wings open;  Number 6, the youngest and also from the smallest mum/egg, has only wing tip feathers and gets jostled a bit.

It's been baking hot this afternoon so we decided to put the chicks outside for a short spell.   It took me a while to set up the Electric Hen outside,  put out the feed and water,  block the end off the run we were using, etc etc. 

Then I had to move everything out of the shed brooder so I could step in and catch the chicks, and pop them into the large purple chick trug.

 At the moment they are still very young, with very delicate legs,  so I had to be especially creful with the moving and transporting. 

I let them out into the Run, and of course they didn't know what to do, they were overwhelmed by sights, smells and sounds.

It didn't take long.  One of them discovered grass, so they all discovered grass.  One of them ran round like  loony, so they all ran round like loonies,

After about 20 minutes they settled down for a rest.  I decided that was probably enough stimulation for one day, and we set about catching them.  That took a while.

I hope the good weather continues, we can get them out for a short time each day if so.

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Baby brother

This morning, we took the big yellow brooder away, put a lower hen in the chick brooder area,  and let Number 6 out to meet his brothers and sisters.    We stood watching.

It couldn't have gone better.

He was a nuisance.  He was fascinated by them all, and was constantly pecking their feet, their beaks, their feathers.    Some of them just moved away.    Penguin,  who is the Legbar/Leghorn cross and has hugely developed feathers,  didn't retaliate at all.  Brownie gave a few warning pecks.    The others pecked Number 6 back when he pecked them.   Number 6 kept jumping up and pecking Brownie,  and then he followed Brownie around for a while.

After about 10 minutes we could see that there was not likely to be any deliberate trouble.  The only concern was accidental damage.  He is so tiny compared to the rest of them, and that's because his mum is a tiny girl.

The others let him eat with them, let him run round with them.     We watched on the camera from the house,  so we could see what they did when we weren't there.   He continued to be a pest, and they continued to be very tolerant.

He should have been sleeping every few minutes, but he didn't. He kept up with them.  He wasn't able to get on the hen, it's a bit high for him to get up at the mo.  There were only a few on there at a time, so he didn't miss out.

I turned the light out at about 6.30,  so there was only the light from the heat lamp.  I checked the camera every half hour or so, or when I heard cheeping on the baby monitor.

There was one point where they were all asleep.  Most of them were together, slightly away from the heat of the lamp.  He was directly under the lamp (he needs more heat than the rest),  one was under the hen, and one was away from the lamp completely ....

...I looked a few minutes later and saw that the largest chick, Brownie,   had settled down beside him.

That was an incredibly kind thing for him to do, because under the lamp is probably a bit too warm for Brownie.

Sometimes they can be so darned lovely.

Integration 1

We put the big brooder in the shed brooder yesterday, and put a pre-warmed brick inside for Number 6 to stand on.  We put a pre-warmed brick outside for the others to look in.

For ages, the chicks didn't notice this...thing.. inside their newly enlarged area.   Eventually a couple of them got on the brick couldn't see anything, and jumped off again.    Number 6 jumped on his brick each time, but by the time he got there, the visitor had gone.

DH opened the corner of the door so it was easier for them to see in and out.

All was well.

Tuesday 5 June 2018

Unintended consequences

Small Person has been here every day, and lots of overnights, and has been full of questions.   I'd previously explained to her why we don't interfere in hatching (with the one exception, that we caused a problem).  Of course we had a lot of interfering this time, and I've been explaining why there are always unintended consequences.

We've had one of those.

We brought the brooder downstairs because Number 6 was on his own, and because we were concerned that he might not make it anyway.   We thought it would be helpful for him to see us milling about, and it would be easy for us to check up on him.

We imprinted on him.

We were trying to watch TV, when the cheeping started.  We went out to check him.  He was fine, he shut up when he saw us  We went back to the TV.

It started again.

We tried ignoring it.

It got worse.   I was concerned he was going to get himself too worked up.  I went to see him. He was standing in the water trying to look out.  I dried him off and put some crumpled kitchn towel in for him to sit on.  He settled down.  We moved the water round so it was no longer by the door.

The ambient temperature was too cool for us to take him out of the brooder and bring im in the living room.  A few days ago it was hot enough that we could have done that for a short time.  Not now.

I went and found one of my treasured stuffed toys from my memorabilia box, kissed it goodbye,  and put it in the brooder. He didn't like it.  I left it anyway.

DH had the bright idea of putting the radio on, next to the brooder.  It worked.

Number 6 was asleep with his head on my stuffed dog.


This morning, DH removed the kitchen towel and rescued the toy dog.  Number 6 started cheeping immediately.   I put the dog back and he quietened down.

Later, he was standing on the dogs back.  I tried and failed to get a picture.

Now he's busy catching up on sleep.  He's asleep for a couple of minutes, awake for a bit, asleep for a bit.  He's catching up on all the sleep he missed yesterday evening.

We're going to move his brooder into the big brooder today.  It's a lot earlier than we planned, but he really needs company.

Sunday 3 June 2018

Number 6 mini move

Number 6 has moved.   He's now in the big yellow brooder.  He's tiny.  He must be Siouxsie's, I can't see how any of the others (apart from Ping & Pong the Dorkings) could have produced such a small egg. 

We've moved the brooder into the kitchen, on the big dining table I use for my sewing.   At least he'll see us during the day.

He's had a little drink and he's eaten a little.

All good signs. Right?

We're always hot on hygiene,  and we're being extra extra careful now.

The incubator is dismantled.  The non-electric bits are in a Miltoned bath.  The electric part has been sprayed and dried.  Tomorrow the incubators will go back in the loft,  until next year.

The steam press has been moved back out of the guest room, I've vacuumed and cleaned.   Tomorrow I can get to the filing cabinet and do the filing,  and sort out the rest of the room.

It's returning to normality. 


Well, we've made the shed brooder bigger (but not as big as it can be), and we've added number 1-5  to ABCD.   

ABCD had a holiday in a bucket while we altered the brooder ring.   1-5 started to try and eat Aubiose the moment their feet touched down.    ABCD had a little peck of 1-5's egg teeth, but other than that, all seemed OK.

We're keeping the baby monitor close so we can hear of any trouble. Hopefully.

Number 6 is looking very small and lonely.  We've cleaned and disinfected the big yellow brooder, and we're going to transfer him sometime this evening.

I'm thinking of moving the brooder into the kitchen so he'll see us and we can talk to him.

Number 6

Number 6 survived the night.

This morning, the yolk sac was detached.  I can't open the incubator, so I can't see whether his tummy is OK and healed, or whether there is a problem.

He's a yellow/brown chick, and he's tiny.  The egg he came from was very small, and I don't know who laid it.  It was the wrong colour to be one of the Dorkings.  It was too small for most of the harem.

It could be a Siouxsie egg.  The colouring of the egg wasn't quite the colour I remember from Siouxsie's eggs, but it was very very glossy like her eggs were.

It's possible that this little lone chick could be from that line. I looked at pics of Siouxise, Pogo, Not Norman, and Norman when they were chicks.   Number 6 could definitely be fom that line!   Pogo and NotNorman's   nephew/niece. Norman's  first cousin once removed .

But I need to not get ahead of myself.  Poor little Number 6 is going to have a bit of a long lonely  road ahead.     And the incubator has to stay shut for now.

And the others are going to have to go out in the shed brooder today so tha the upstairs brooder is empty for Number 6 to move in to.

We talked about keeping one of the chicks back to put in with Number6.    The problem is that if Number6 has got some sort of latent infection,  it'll transfer to the chick we put in with it. 

I looked back in my blog to see what we had done with Norman,  and I could see what we need to do here.

The exercise  reminded me of why keeping a blog is so useful.

Chicks 1-5

Chicks 1-5 are in the small brooder upstairs, and seem to be OK.  The foot fetish seems to be over.
They all look very similar, although there are some differences with the feet.     We won't know any more until they get a bit older.

There is no evidence yet of any Vorwerk colouring in any of them.   We've no idea which of our allotment girls are the Mums.  I know there were at least 3 different egg types, but  I don't know who laid what.

It will be interesting to see how they turn out.

Unless we ring some of them,  we won't know which were from our controlled group and which were "pot luck".   That may make things difficult later, when we have to decide who to keep and who to cull.

I don't like ringing chicks at this age.  I do have some rings tiny enough, but I don't like doing it.

We'll have to make a decision soon.

Chicks ABCD

Last weeks's 4 chicks (A.B,C and D) are bouncing around in the brooder in the shed.   Two of them are black, and I think are one of each sex.    One is currently black and is a different breed.  And one is brown striped, and so I know it's from Barbara.

Barbara's chick is very. very alert.  When we go in,  it watches us from a beady eye.

We're going to extend the brooder today or tomorrow so chicks 1-5 can join them.

End of hatch

So, the 7 other eggs.

The other incubator was cleaned and disinfected, and set to hatching, which mainly means much higher humidity. Humidity is important when hatching:  the membrane surrounding the chick needs to be moist, other wise the chick will bocme 'shrink wrapped' and uable to get out.

Before transferring the eggs for their final 2 days, we candled them. One was clear (unfertilised) - the last Dorking egg, sadly - which left us with 6.

I'm not sure I can rember the sequence of events.

Chick 1 chick hatched on Thursday.  No other chicks emerged, and we were concerned we might have a lone chick.  After 12 hours, we moved him into the brooder.  Small Person popped over to see.

On Friday morning, nothing was happening at 6am,  but at 8am when I went to look, we had a chick.  And another one on the way.

Small Person was away fishing with her Dad.  I phoned her Dad and arranged to meet them so that small person could see the hatch.  We got back just in time to see chick 2 emerging.  

Two more had pipped, possibly 3 - although the 3rd one looked like it might have been pecked from the outside. Small person stayed to see what happened.   She popped out with DH and  chick 3 hatched while she was out.   Honestly. You couldn't make it up.  I tried to video it for her.

Nothing else was happening with the others so after some hours I took Small Person back to her Dad.

Later on Friday,  I could see that we were going to have a timing problem.  I decided to pop the Chicks 2 and 3 in the brooder, with the original chick,  before the next chick emerged.   I also took the opportunity to take out the shells.

Chick 1, who has black legs and feet,  was shocked to have 2 newbies in with him.  He was also fascinated by their pink toes and kept going for them. I presume he thought they were worms.  He would not let the newhatched chicks rest,  so I had to take them back out and put them back in the incubator.

Chick 4 hatched.   I was really conscious of the timing problem now. I had 2 dry chicks, 1 wet chick,  and another one on the way.   Once number 5 arrived, I woudln't be able to open the incubator until he was dry,  and by that point number 2 would need food and water and number 3 would need water. . So, much later, when number 4 was dry,  I removed number 2 and 3 and put them in the brooder.   The same thing happened with the feet fetish,  but I couldn't do anything about it now. 

Number 5 was well pipped and had a fairly big hole.  I realised that the membrane was probably too dry,   probably because I'd opened the incubator a few times.    Damn Damn Damn Damn.   I was going to have to intervene (as I had caused the problem).

I boiled some water,  soaked a new dishcloth in it,  then took the egg out of the incubator and wrapped it in the warm cloth.    I soaked some kitchen towel, and attempted to drip water on to the cracked edges and on to the membrane.  I had to make sure I didn't get water near the beak or nostrils,   I resoaked the cloth as it cooled down.    I could hear the chick inside the egg cheeping.

I put the egg back, and picked up the small 6th egg. No sound.  I put it back.

Several times over the rest of the evening, I used hot boiled water and went through the process with number 5.  I was sure the chick was going to die, and it would be my fault.

It was not an easy night.

On Saturday morning, number 5 had emerged.  I was so relieved.

So we had just one egg left in the Incubator.  It had pipped but hadn't got any further. We weren't even sure it had pipped,  it was possible it had been a peck from the first or second chick.    Then I saw it had cracked a bit and there was a small hole. I heard it cheep.

If number 5 made me think Damn Damn Damn,  you can imagine what I was thinking about number 6. 

This poor chick.  All the faffing about with Number 5,   all the times I'd opened the incbator,  the damage might be irreperable.   I had assumed it was dead in shell,  and I hadn't done anything to keep it damp.

I had to try and do something now.   I tried the soaking thing, but I couldn't risk dripping water because the hole was too mall.   I got a brand new artist brush,  put that in boiling water, and tried using that to dampen the edges.  I even chipped away some shell and soaked the membrane.

I could see the little beak trying to poke out.  It cheeped.

I picked up Small Person at 2pm and brought her back.   During the afternoon, I tried again a couple of times.  Each time I tried, I was wishing I hadn't,  and simultaneously wondering about doing more.   I used the brush to get some membrane off its beak and part of its body.   It's very easy to break a blood vessel when interfering like this.  So many things can go wrong.

Every time we opened the incubator,  4 and 5 would try to hop out.  Later in the afternoon we decided we'd have to get the other chicks out.  I wrapped the Number 6 egg in a wet cloth,  Small Person moved 4 and 5 into the brooder, took out the shells, and put fresh kitchen towel down.

Several times I used my brush, desperately trying to help the poor thing.  If it really had pipped on Thursday,  it had taken far too long.      At some point DH had also had a surreptitious attempt at 'helping' by breaking off some shell.  It was so stressful.

Much later, it was desperately trying to break free.  I looked at the shell and could see that our 'helping' had probably made it harder for the little thing to get the leverage it needed.    I walked away.   They have to push out of the shell to strengthem their legs, otherwaise you get "splayed leg" and various other deformoties.

I came back and watched for a bit.   I walked away. 

Eventually, I had to wrap it up again and help the shell a bit.

Eventually,  it hatched.

It still had it's yolk sac attached.  That's not good.  They need to have absorbed all the yolk before they emerge.   I googled.  I struggled not to cry.  The outlook was not good.     It might ot survive more than a few hours.  It might survive but it could be susceptible to disease, some of them so horrible they don't bear thinking about ("mushy chick").   It mght ie within a day or two.  It might carry a disease and infect the other chicks.  It might survive and die young. 

It was done now. We had to leave it alone, not open the incubator at all in case infection got in.
I struggled not to cry.    Small Person kept asking if it was going to be all right.  We answered honestly.   We don't know.  We just have to wait and see what happens.

No matter what happens, we cannot open the incubator.