Picture day. C3.0 on Day 26.

It seemed as though the rain would never stop and the sun would never shine, but it has and it has. Halleluia! I’ve been looking for a day that wasn’t so very cold to take C3.0 out of the brooder and out from under the heat lamp for updated photos. Spreading and preserving the cute, yes, but also informative; I am impatient to know how many hens I have.

(By the way, it might amuse you to know that, in my head, C3.0 is C3PO.)

The sexing is foregone for many of C3.0 (See? You’re doing it now, too.). I am as certain as I can be without pissing off Mother Nature that I have a minimum of two Blue Copper Marans roos. My beloved Big Blue, the biggest, the fastest, the most precocious, who I had hoped would be a hen, crowed on Day 19, dashing my hopes. That his wattles are now a rather spectacular cherry red is just salt in the wound.

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Ladies and gentlechickens, I give you…Big Blue leRoo. If all continues on its current course, Big Blue leRoo will be my Marans rooster. He hatched first, easiest, healthiest, strongest, and biggest. (Wendy, he might well be #37.) I’d be a fool not to use him as the foundation of my breeding program, modest as it is.

Recall that I am naming the Marans after Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters, and the Ameraucanas after Angel characters…my Marans rooster will be named Spike. As I try not to tempt fate whenever possible, he remains Big Blue leRoo for the foreseeable future. How ’bout them wattles, huh? Here he is, at left, with Blue Roo Two:

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Not hard to see who the alpha is, is it? Big Blue leRoo has already begun to peck at me when I clean the brooder, and, thanks to the invaluable guidance of Justine at Les Farms, I know now to ping him when he does so, and force him to recognise my physical superiority. I am the alpha.

That said, Blue Roo Two will be kept as my backup until the fall, at which time, if all goes according to plan (ha!) he will make a fine Marans rooster in someone else’s flock.

Then there are the blue girls, which is to say, what I hope are the blue girls:

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A dramatic difference in combs and wattles, you’ll agree. Although there is likely a slight age difference, it can’t be more than one day, so I don’t think it’s a factor at this point. I will need a blue rooster and blue hens if I’m ever to breed the elusive splash.

Then there are my two blacks. Both of these chicks required help hatching. Medium Black was born 25 days ago, and Scrappy 24. Medium Black may have needed help getting from the shell, but was completely independent thereafter, and never required my help again. That said, she is significantly smaller than the blues.

Scrappy, as you’ll recall, was very high maintenance. She pipped when I had given up hope of any other hatchings, and needed quite a bit of my help, including an after-hatch bath and and elaborate leg bracing to correct weak toes and an inturned left ankle:

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Here they are today:

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They were the wiggliest of the bunch and this shot is the most in focus of all the shots I took. Scrappy, at left, may be tiny, but she is undaunted. She was the only one of the nine who tried to fly off the 3.5 foot roost on which they were perched. As you can see, she is still behind developmentally, but is now making progress.

I believe both of these blacks to be girls, and await the thoughts of more learned chickeneers.

Which brings us to the Lavender Ameraucana trio. I think I lucked out and got a proper breeding trio, one rooster and two hens. I base this conclusion not on combs and wattles, but on the rate of feathering, as I’m told this is a reliable method of sexing in Ameraucanas. From the outset, two of the LAs feathered in quickly, and one slowly.

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Although the roolet, at center, is blurry in this shot, you can see how his feather development differs from that of the pullets on either side of him. He and the girl to the right were born on the first day, making them 26 days old; the pullet to the left is none other than Light Preemie, who has blossomed.

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Assuming I am right (and that’s always dangerous), I am going ahead and giving them their adult names. The roo will be Angel. The larger, more glamourous hen, at right, will be Cordelia, and the perky, come-up-from-behind hen will be Fred. Yes, Fred. Innit she sweet? In the shot above, you can also get a good look at Cordelia’s beard coming in.

So, there you have it: the kids of C3.0, on Day 26. Coming later this week, the babies of T1.0, and the embryos of C3.1.

Babies in da hizzle!

I just learned why people take photos of chicks when they are only one day old: they are much ore compliant and less zoomie then.

I just did a little photo shoot of 3.0 to introduce them. They don’t have names yet, of course, as I don’t even know their genders. Some of them will be familiar to you, if you’ve been following the Facebook Page.

First, The Cute Kids…the Lavender Ameraucanas:

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The chicks to the left and right were born on Day One (check out the primary feathers coming in on the wing of the chick in the background). They are still much smaller than their Marans counterparts, but they are the largest of the Ameraucanas. That little cutie in the middle is Zippy, The Artist Formerly Known As Light Preemie. Unlike his ICU-mate, Zippy is thriving and keeping up with the big kids.

Next, The Big Kids…the Blue Copper Marans:

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Blue genetics being what they are, any clutch of eggs hatched will be approximately half blue, one quarter black, and one quarter splash. I have four Blue Copper Marans chicks, all capable of producing all three colours. The chick to the right was born Day One, and, no, that’s not just foreshortening. We don’t call her Big Blue for nothing…

Now, The Small Kids…the Black Copper Marans:

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Both of these chicks needed help being born. The larger chick to the right was helped out of the shell just after Splash was, and never needed any help after that. The one to the left should be instantly recognisable by the snazzy bracelet…that’s Little Black Copper Marans, the littlest Marans, who has needed all kinds of orthopaedic help. I was very concerned about this chick, protecting from the big kids, making sure s/he drank enough water…

Well, this morning, I watched as s/he drank independently for the first time, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. This chick is mouthy and isn’t taking any crap.

And, lastly…The Lone Chick…the Splash Copper Marans:

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Splash was the first chick I helped from the shell, and the only Splash of the hatch. I so want this chick to be a rooster, but, first, I want this chick to survive. I wouldn’t get o attached to Splash just yet, as s/he is exhibiting some pretty major digestive issues, and I won’t relax until I see improvement. Poop is all.

So, there you have them, the chicks of 3.0.

And then, there were seventeen. Again.

Helloooo? Anybody Home?

It’s Day Eight for 3.0; time to candle and see what we have so far. I tried candling with two different flashlights last night, to no avail. Between the writing on the eggs, the bumps and freckles on the eggs, and the shit on the eggs, I had no idea what I was looking at. I gave up after about six of them.

Clearly, more intensive methods were required. When in doubt…youtube.

I saw this video last night, and this one this morning, and what I am creating is an amalgam of the two. Pretty freaking brill, though I say it myself, who shouldn’t.

I began by stealing a large (10″) clay flower pot from the garden, and giving it a good scrub in the tub. What could be better?! It doesn’t leak light, contains heat, is fireproof, and comes with a ready-made viewing hole, to boot, almost the perfect size! (The diameter of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot is 1 1/4″; the recommended size for viewing chicken eggs is 1 1/2″.)

My first move was to sand down all the rough edges around the drainage hole. Our precious eggs were going on there, and it needed to be smoooooth. This was surprisingly easy; the clay gave way without much of a fight. I could have enlarged the hole, had I been so inclined. I was not.

I then went back to the first video and stole his idea of lining the pot with aluminum foil, to increase the power of the light.

I was going to need a light source, one that was short enough to fit under the 9.5″ high pot. Failing that (and I did), I’d need to modify (read: destroy) one to suit the purpose. This was not as hard as one might think; we have all manner of baby girl table lamps around here, and destroying one of them could only enrich my soul.

Oh, stop. You try living with little Peter Rabbit lamps everywhere, and see how you like it.

Only one problem: the lamp was about 6″ too tall. It seemed perfect for modification (sounds nicer than “destruction”, don’t you think?), as the center rod is metal, and a wire runs through it:

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As you can see in the photo above, I took a pipe cutter to the top of the rod. I tired to do the same at the bottom, but the stand was just too inhibiting. I wanted to keep the stand as part of the light mechanism. Something was going to have to hold the light upright.

I did what I always do…I adapted. It was much more MacGyvery than I had hoped, but the end result is this:

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What with all the cutting pipe surrounding around the wire, I thought it prudent to see if it still worked…

I lined the pot with aluminum foil, only to learn that little, if anything, sticks to a damp, clay pot. So, I stuck the foil to itself, and wrapped a large elastic band around the lip of the pot. Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be pretty.

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This, inverted over the lamp, looks as though it will do the job. I say “looks as though” because I won’t be able to really tell until I can try it out in a dark room, tonight. Stepdaughter the Elder has been called into service to take notes as I candle each egg.

But I did see this:

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Right? I mean, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but…that’s an embryo, right?! Go #17! Get on with your bad self!