Sunday, 29 May 2011

Well, Betsy Was Lonely, So......

It was my duty, really, to get her a pal. This little lady is a mottled, straight feathered Serama. And her new name is Smudge. On first sight, the ever tolerant husband thought she resembled a dairy cow, so we did toy with the idea of calling her Daisy, or Ermintrude. But ultimately, to me, she looks like a Smudge. So Smudge it is. She's approximately four months old, probably rubbish type, but a sweet little thing. Well, I thought so. Betsy took one look at the newcomer and leapt on her back in a frenzy of talons and feather pulling. Thankfully, Smudge retaliated in kind. After a brief skirmish, the two micro chickens circled each other warily and kept a respectful distance. I'm hoping that given time they will be firm friends.

Smudge the incredible one legged chicken.

She is refusing to pose at the moment, but I'm hoping that she'll settle in quickly and then I can get some better pictures.

As Betsy shows, after settling in Serama are generally nosey and friendly.

The pekins look on the new arrival with an air of resignation. No doubt they will give Smudge the 'chase them 'til they're sick' initiation as soon as allowed.

Meanwhile, the serama chicks are now four weeks old. I'm no nearer to working out which flavour they are, and have a sneaking suspicion they'll keep me guessing for a while yet. Some strains mature at a slower rate than others, and I think I might have a strain that matures at about the same rate as glaciers inch their way down the mountain side. No matter, they're a joy.

A camera shy Hoppy peers out from under Vera while a more confident Sylvie gives me The Look.

Hmmm, Sylvie, are you a boy?

This week, I will mostly be juggling free range time. I might need a spreadsheet.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Coming Of Age

The serama chicks are now 3 weeks old. Although they are still a little young to know for certain whether they are male or female, it's possible now to make an educated guess.

So, this is the chick currently known as Hoppy. I am desperate for this to be a girl, as this is the baby with a deformed foot. I have a bit of a soft spot for the more pathetic specimens, so naturally I'm terribly fond of little Hoppy. Despite the curled toes, this chick can seriously move if there's food in the offing.

And here we have the younger chick, known currently as Sylvie. Although I suspect that this is going to be a chap. So perhaps we should switch to Silvio so as to not confuse him/it. This chick has the better stance, although isn't as bold as Hoppy.

So, any opinions welcome. But please tell me Hoppy is a girl. Or I shall cry.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Greed Is A Killer

Before I became a chicken keeper, I thought that chickens were stupid creatures. I probably also assumed that they were all the same. But as any keeper will tell you, that is far from true. There are many personality types in my little flock, ranging from the adorably friendly (Betsy) to the mildly sinister (ASBO Chicken). Doris is my greedy hen.

If I throw out treats, it's Doris who will rugby tackle the others out of her way so that she can grab the biggest prize. She has become adept at zooming off down the garden, dodging and weaving like a pro in an effort to shake off her pursuers. Chickens aren't stupid, but they do have a short attention span. Doris knows that if she runs for long enough, the others will get distracted by a worm or something shiny. Then she can scoff in peace.

So, today I treated the girls to some soft cherry tomatoes. Now, I like cherry tomatoes, but once they go mushy I lose interest. My ladies are not so fussy. As usual, the sound of the back door opening brought them running to the step. I held up three tomatoes for their perusal, and they got on their marks. Launching the tomatoes in to the garden begins the sprint, and with much comedy scrabbling they were off. Typically, Doris reached the squishy treat first and legged it unobserved in to the shrubbery. I watched the rest of the flock divide the other two tomatoes between them. Even Betsy darted forward to snaffle a seed.

I watched all of this with a smile on my face. There is something so utterly endearing about the way hens chatter and squabble over favourite snacks. It reminds me very much of toddlers negotiating biscuit rations. Anyway, after several minutes I glanced about to see what Doris was up to.

At a distance, I couldn't quite work out what was wrong with the picture before me. Then I twigged. Doris seemed to still have her tomato in her mouth. She's not generally the type to savour her food, so I strolled over to investigate. As I got closer, I noticed that her comb and face had taken on a distinctively purple hue. That got me moving.

I grabbed the asphyxiating hen under one arm, and levered open her beak. Doris had apparently decided that eating her tomato in pieces was too risky. Far too much chance of being mugged by a flock mate. So she decided to impersonate a boa constrictor and swallow the thing whole. Even as I attempted to pull the unravelled but still whole tomato from her throat, she attempted to swallow it. With a final tug, I wrenched it free. As I stared at the slimy tomato dangling between my fingers, she struggled in my arms and snapped her beak at it as it swung tantalisingly close to shrieking with indignation gob. Even near death couldn't curb her appetite.

I waited until Doris's face had returned to a healthy colour before putting her down. She circled my feet, still looking up expectantly at the straggly fruit. Much to her disgust, I threw it in the compost bin. She registered her displeasure by crapping messily by my foot and then stalking off.

That's the thanks I get for saving her life.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Introducing Betsy

I feel sorry for Betsy. She has now spent nearly seven weeks on her own while her pal Vera has been busy incubating and rearing chicks. The pekins swing between total indifference and trying to kill her, so aren't exactly company. I am in the process of trying to get her a bantam pal, but for now she resides in the bottom hutch alone.

For the last week or so, providing that the weather is fine, I've been putting Vera and the fluffy duo on the lawn in a rabbit run. They have aroused a lot of interest, and no one is more interested than Betsy. I have watched her carefully. She seemed interested, but not particularly homicidal. So, today, I let the chicks free range with their mother and Betsy for the first time. I was not so silly as to let the pekins out as well, and I stayed very close. How did it go? Well, judge for yourself.

YouTube Video

At one point, Betsy was between Hoppy and Vera. Hoppy noticed, and ran under Betsy's tail to reach Vera's fluffy undercarriage. Betsy did a comedy startle, and squawked while leaping 6 inches in to the air. Sadly, I wasn't filming at the time. The hen was a little unsettled about the chicks, but apart from a very vague peck in Sylvie's direction, seemed happy to ignore them while chatting to her pal.

Despite this apparent success, it will be some weeks before Betsy can be left near the tiny micro chooks without me hovering nearby. I don't think she would eat them, but it's best to be on the safe side.

After all this effort, I don't want them to be a pre-dinner snack.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Two Weeks Old. And Resembling Penguins

When I last posted, I was fretting about eyes and possible illness. I spent an uncomfortable, anxious night worrying that I'd find very poorly serama babies in the morning. Naturally, when I staggered out to the garage shortly after dawn I found two bouncy, wide eyed chicks stuffing their chops with chick crumb. I have come to the conclusion that they are masters of emotional manipulation, and will probably out live me. Anyway, now that they are two weeks old I thought I should share with you some up to date pics.

Vera supervises breakfast.

Hoppy and Sylvie have mastered the drinker, but it took a while. They spent most of their first week sitting in it.

Sylvie showing some nice serama posing.

Hoppy, not showing some nice serama posing.

If you look closely here, you can see Hoppy's wonky toes. Sylvie is obviously flaunting his perfect tootsie.

Now that their wing feathers are growing in, I think they look more like baby penguins than anything else. And now their wing feathers are growing in, they can fly. They are incredibly light and amazingly speedy. It's like being dive bombed by dust.

The adventure continues.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Could These Be The Most Delicate Chicks In The World?

Now, don't get me wrong. I knew what I was getting myself in to when I decided to try and hatch some serama. I knew that getting a decent hatch rate was nigh on impossible without very expensive incubators and years of experience. I also knew that they would have kamikaze tendencies that would require my constant supervision. But I underestimated the sheer range of ways in which they could attempt to dispatch themselves.

Today's novel way of giving me white hair involves eyes. Sylvie, the younger chick, was discovered by yours truly staggering around the hutch earlier with both eyes shut. Now, I don't pretend to know how chicks choose to entertain themselves, but I'm guessing that 'blind mans buff' isn't one of them. With a weary sigh, I scooped up the blind chick. It promptly pooed on me in fright, as it hadn't seen me coming.

I looked at the chick's fused eyelids with concern. Gently, I pulled the eyelids apart. Sylvie looked back at me impassively. Vera gave a severe peck to my knuckle just to remind me who's baby I was holding. Replacing the now seeing chick, I went off to google this odd symptom. After several minutes of searching, and getting nowhere fast, I went out to check on the serama family again. This time I found both chicks running about the hutch with one eye closed. Like they were playing pirates. Vera seemed unconcerned by her offspring's antics, and once again with gentle persuasion they could both open both eyes.

Several more times today I have found Sylvie eating, drinking and walking about with his/her eyes closed. Perhaps this is just a bizarre way of entertaining itself and it certainly seems adept at avoiding walking in to things. Or perhaps she's sleepwalking. Either way, both chicks now have to suffer having both ends bathed in warm water.

If they make it to their one month birthday, I will throw a party.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Things Are Looking Up

Due to blogger having a bit of a tantrum, I've been unable to update you on Mabel's condition. You'll be pleased to hear that right now, our illustrious leader is mooching about the garden with the rest of the flock. Despite things looking quite grim on Wednesday, my millefleur girl has surprised me. I'm still not entirely sure what was wrong with her, but seeing as though the baytril appears to have worked, I'm assuming some kind of infection. She will continue to reluctantly take her medicine until tomorrow.

Yesterday, Mabel was living in the parakeet cage in the downstairs loo. It was the best place to put her so that she was warm, quiet and undisturbed. Well, apart from the children randomly bursting in to sling their shoes towards the shoe rack. On the whole, she took this quite well. Once the children were at school, however, she had a whole day to convalesce. Now that I knew her Achilles heel, I made sure that mabel's food bowl contained some chopped grapes mixed in with her pellets and probiotic yoghurt. Every so often, I peeked my head around the door to check on her. Most times, I found her sat in a corner, looking fed up. I would make encouraging noises and then leave her in peace. Although I was seeing signs of improvement, I still was unsure as to how this story of Mabel's would end.

Shortly after lunch I checked again on the housebound hen. And was surprised to find her on her feet. And looking bright eyed and interested. As I watched, she homed in on the corner of her cage and began frantically pecking. Intrigued, I leant in closer. It seemed that an ants nest had established itself near the downstairs toilet on the outside wall, and it's inhabitants were no going forth to expand their territories. As I contemplated the cruelty of fate that would place an ant scoffing predator right by their back door, Mabel hoovered up several more tasty insects. I'm sure they went marvellously with the yoghurt/grape combo.

Since taking part in ant Armageddon, Mabel seems much improved. This morning, she was well enough to not only redecorate the floor of her cage in poo, but also shriek loudly until I got up to get her some breakfast. As I watched her devour her porridge, I decided to let her outside.

I admit I was nervous letting her back within sight of the flock. Mabel has been top hen for three years, and I wasn't sure what would happen. I was surprised to note that all of the hens deferred to her apart from the gobby Doris. It seems that Doris has ideas above her station, and she pecked Mabel's comb. My eyebrows were lost in my hair line when Mabel allowed this to happen, and didn't retaliate. I fully expected Maeve to make a bid for the leadership title, but not Doris. In the event, Maeve barely seemed to notice the power shift. As I have previously suspected, ASBO Chicken seems to live outside of chickenny social boundaries. She's a chicken renegade.

Despite some surprising changes, I'm very glad to have Mabel still with us.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Not A Good Day

When I closed up the hens last night, I found Mabel in the nest box. I could kick myself now for not thinking anything of it, but I didn't. I assumed she was thinking of going broody, so left her to it. Likewise, when I found her still in the nest box this morning I just lifted her to put her on the grass and assumed she was being hormonal. Except the wood shavings under her were very wet. And she wasn't growling.

On closer inspection, I discovered that Mabel was very wet all around her vent area. The feathers were saturated. Now, chickens don't generally wee, so something was up. I popped her on to the grass. She stood still, tail and wings lowered. Oh, this was not good. Lifting her tail, I noticed that her vent was pulsating.

I hurriedly scooped her up and brought her in to the house. Mabel allowed this without a murmur, and that confirmed to me that I had a very sick chicken. I considered the possibility that she was egg bound, so ran a warm sink of water and gave her a soak. She lay on my hand looking miserable. Gently, I felt her abdomen for a stuck egg. I found nothing. After a few minutes, I lifted her from the water and wrapped her in a towel.

As usual with a chicken crisis, my first port of call was Twitter and the amazing chicken community which exists there. Several fellow chook keepers agreed with the egg bound theory, so Mabel was given yet another warm bath. Her vent continued to pulsate, but all that she produced was a thin foul smelling liquid. It was suggested that I examined her vent more intimately. Steeping myself against the horror, I oiled up my index finger and...probed. This got a reaction from Mabel. She attempted to leave the vicinity rather sharpish, so I decided enough probing had been done. We avoided eye contact and I bleached my hand. If only there was brain bleach.

With a sick hen and no obvious cause, we made our way to the vet. The vet gave Mabel the once over, and found her temperature to be on the low side. He was also unable to feel any obvious blockage in her internal gubbins. Her comb and face are red and healthy looking. There is no obvious sign or worms or parasites. Her weight and general condition seems good. With a scratch of his head, the vet decided that Mabel may have some kind of internal infection. He gave her a shot of baytril and has sent me home with more medicine to treat her with.

So now my beautiful top hen is situated in the pet carrier in the lounge next to a heater. She is sat, hunched, in her box. I managed to get her to eat some sloppy porridge earlier, but she has no interest now. She is sleeping a lot. If I knew what was wrong with her I'd feel a bit better about the whole thing.

Unfortunately, we just have to wait and see.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Chickens In Motion

A quickly put together film of the girls. Enjoy.

YouTube Video

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 6 May 2011

Kamikaze Chicks

Being as though serama chicks are notoriously difficult to hatch, I am delighted to have two little bundles of fluff zooming about the hutch with Vera. However, I put so much effort, worry and time in to getting them to actually hatch,, that I deliberately ignored how difficult serama are to rear. There is no ignoring it now.

Vera is proving to be an exceptional mother. She calls them over to eat and drink, she sits to keep them warm at a moments notice, and she is wonderfully tolerant of me handling them. Really, I couldn't ask for more. However, there are some things that she can't do. Serama chicks suffer from a balance problem. They fall on to their backs, and can't get back up. Why this is is a bit of a mystery, but it is speculated that a short back coupled with tiny non-feathered wings doesn't help. Several times I have found one of them laying on their back in the chick crumb, legs cycling like mad and cheeping their hearts out. Vera seems unable to right them, but does take up a loud shrieking which alerts me to the problem. I think she's calling the chick rather than me, but it is immensely helpful. I was initially concerned that I would lose one through the night to this phenomenon, but like all good mothers Vera insists on an early bedtime for her young. She trundles off to the nest box at half six and they stay under her wings until breakfast. Between us, we're keeping them upright.

Another thing to be aware of with serama is their propensity to have pasted vents. For some reason, a lot of serama babies suffer from this problem. I noticed that Hoppy had poo stuck to his bum at 3 days old, and pulled it off. This morning, both Hoppy and the currently named Sylvie (because it seems a bit silvery in colour. Original, me) both were sporting a fetching berry of poo. Because I have done my reserach, I knew that the best thing to do in this instance was to steel myself and just rip it off. Of course, you can gently bathe the mess away, but as this is likely to be a recurring problem with these chicks a lot of breeders prefer the bald bum approach. It prevents the problem occurring again, and is over in a second. Still, I winced at the thought of giving such tiny chicks what amounts to a bikini wax. With a deep breath, I quickly tugged the blockage from Hoppy's derriere. He squeaked, understandably, and Vera pecked my finger in retaliation. Fair enough really. He is not hurt, though, just less fluffy and more exposed. Hopefully now I won't have to find him at death's door because his vent has been pasted shut. Sylvie proved a trickier customer, so I am keeping an eye on her today. I'm not convinced that her vent is actually blocked, more that her bum feathers are a bit dirty. She may get herself a trip to the bidet before the day is out, but eventually I suspect she will also be bald of bum. To steal a serama breeders quote: 'A bald arse is a clean arse'.

They appear to be developing well, but left to their own devices I can see why they have the reputation of being difficult to have success with. They are certainly not a beginners breed. However, with a large dose of luck and some intense hands on rearing, I am hoping to have at least one new flock member.

Now, back to ensuring that no-one drowns themselves/eats the bedding/blocks up their vent/gets stuck in an impossibly small space.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Gratuitous Chick Pics

Being as though I have spent all day watching the new additions, I thought I'd force lots of pictures on you lot too. Like a new mother brandishing albums full of junior being sick, here I come. And there is no escape. Mwahahahahaha!

Here we have Hoppy, 3 days old, and back in his shoe to see if we can straighten that middle banana toe a bit more.

This is the new chick, as yet un-named even temporarily, a mere 16 hours post-hatch.

Vera shows Hoppy how to eat: 'You open your face. Like this'.

Hoppy is a quick learner.

Hoppy attempts the serama pose, but looks a bit odd without any impressive feathers.

Although he is wearing very fetching 'Adam Ant' style make-up.

Holding claws.

I like to think of this look as 'Come any closer to my offspring, human, and you'll lose something fleshy'.

Handsome little devil, isn't he?

Catching up on the rugby scores.

It's the amazing six-legged chicken!

Well, chick 2 keeping warm anyway.


I have lots more. Run. Run away while you still can!

Another Birth Story

As Day 23 slipped in to Day 24 I began to worry. The egg was still cheeping but Vera now had a lively, demanding chick (named temporarily as Hoppy) that needed to eat and drink. So she had to leave the eggs to lead the bouncy (and quite frankly, mental) Hoppy to the food and water. All the time she was away, the eggs were cooling.

I watched proceedings nervously. Twice I found Vera settled down near the feeder keeping Hoppy warm, and ignoring the cheeping egg. I put her back in the nest each time, and kept my fingers crossed. She was definitely losing the will to sit, and I couldn't blame her. Hoppy was now ranging out from under Vera's protective wing, and causing mischief. Now that Vera had shown him how to eat, he decided to practice pecking at everything. His initial target was his mother's feet. Vera would squeal as each peck landed, and shuffle backwards. This became great fun for the little chick, and eventually Vera's patience ran out. She scooped him under her wing with her beak, and muttered grumpily. However, Hoppy was not sleepy. He wriggled back around to Vera's front, bashing the other eggs about as he did so, and arrived in front of her triumphant. He then tried to peck her in the eye. Vera was too quick for him and got her eye closed before he could make contact. So he weaved his head around to the other side and had a go at her other eye. This continued for a while, with the chick pestering her eyes alternately, and Vera doing semaphore with her eyelids. I admired her patience and restraint. Eventually, the little hooligan got sleepy and flopped forward on to the bedding, cheeping exhaustedly. Vera shuffled forwards and covered him with her ample bosom. She probably got a whole five minutes of peace.

Every so often the cheeping egg would really go for it, and Hoppy would cheep back. They were soon dueting an almighty racket, and Vera's soothing crooning did little to quieten them. I kept watching for signs of pipping, but as the afternoon wore on I began to lose heart. As Vera took Hoppy for his dinner, I picked the egg up and listened. The chick inside was scratching and tapping but didn't seem to be getting anywhere. The temptation to help it was enormous, but I know that if a chick isn't strong enough to pip, it isn't strong enough to live. So I put the egg back, and resumed my anxious vigil.

Once night fell, Vera was firmly ensconced on the eggs. Even Hoppy fell silent for a bit. Deciding what would be would be, I distracted myself for a couple of hours. When I couldn't keep away any more, I went out with my torch for a peep. I found Vera undulating. There was obviously great activity going on beneath her wings. Spotting the end of an egg peeking out from under her, I lifted her wing to get a closer look. And that's when I realised that the visible egg was just shell. Investigating a little further, I discovered a newly hatched, panting serama chick. Well, it's bum anyway. Hoppy was sat on it's head.

This morning, I went out to check on my little serama family. The new chick was mostly dry but noticably weaker than Hoppy. This might just be because it's two days behind it's nest mate, so hopefully it will catch up. However, Vera is no longer sitting in the nest. She has decamped to the food area, and this worries me a little. The new chick really needs her to stay sat so it can keep warm, but she's running about after it's bigger, louder nest mate. I found the new chick on it's back earlier in the chick crumb, cheeping pitifully. I rescued it and Vera watched me carefully while stuffing her face. I can't blame her, she has been sat for nearly four weeks and has lost weight. She needs to feed herself up. Hoppy is now old enough to follow her around also scoffing, but the new chick was getting left behind. Worried it would get cold, I did the only thing I could think of. Please don't judge me, reader. I stuck the chick down my top. Vera finished her meal keeping her beady eye on my cheeping cleavage, and then after a minute or two loudly demanded her baby back. I returned it to her, and she sat tucking one chick under each wing. I will keep a close eye on her.

Sadly, I do think that one of the other eggs had signs of life first thing this morning. I think I heard some tapping. But Vera has decided enough is enough, and she now has her wings quite literally full. When I last went out, the eggs in the nest were cold and there was no sign of life. I suspect that the three eggs contain dead chicks, as serama are known for dying in the shell. I can't bring myself to open them, but nor can I throw them away. Soft hearted as I am, I think I will bury them. I started this experiment with twelve eggs, and it has ended with two live hatches. Considering everything that was against me, I am quite pleased with that.

I removed Hoppy's shoe this morning. His two outer toes are now in the correct position, but his middle toe is bent to the left like a banana. It doesn't seem to be troubling him judging by how fast he can scuttle, so I'm not overly worried at this stage. The other chick's feet look normal.

Now I just have to wait and see what flavour they are.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Day 23 - Another Egg Is Cheeping

A quick update. As expected, the little chick threw it's shoe again within hours. So I brought out the big guns. He is now sporting a fabric sticking plaster flip flop. See if you can wriggle out of that piece of evil stickiness, mate.

While I was fitting our little pal for his footwear, Vera used the opportunity to grab a bite to eat. She was busily gulping down corn and water when I put the little guy back, and he ran/fell across to his mum cheeping his bonce off. She ignored him for a bit, and i began to worry that he'd get cold. But then, with an air of resignation known to mothers everywhere, she squatted down and covered him with her wing. And that's when it dawned on me that she was going to set up home right there, near the food. Sensible enough, really. Except as I peeked in at the remaining eggs, I thought I heard a tiny, muffled cheep. Carefully picking it up, I placed my ear to the shell. The egg cheeped again. I hurriedly set it back down, and much to Vera and her offspring's annoyance, moved them both back to the nest.

Vera rearranged her eggs again, and sat down. The chick ran/fell about all over the place before attempting to shove itself up her bum. Everyone has their limit, and Vera crossly butted it under herself with her head, muttering no doubt about naughty steps and being grounded. After a few more shouty cheeps, it fell silent.

Let's hope it'll have a pal to snuggle up to soon.

Day 23

This morning I got up hoping that at least one of the other eggs would have pipped. As far as I can tell, that hasn't happened. We still have just the one noisy serama baby. It had managed to shed it's shoe during the night, so with difficulty the ever tolerant husband and I replaced it's sticking plaster footwear. It shrieked it's tiny head off the entire time, and the worried mother waddled around the nest in cricles looking for it. When I popped it back next to her, it basically threw a  tantrum complaining about this horrific treatment before diving back under her wing. Vera chattered soothingly to it the entire time. Just for the 'awwwww' factor, here's a family portrait:

Vera listens to her youngster's complaints.

So, now I'm wondering if I'll be left with a lone chick. I know that a lone chick in a brooder is not a good thing, but can't find much information about lone chicks with broodies. If I could get my hands on a serama baby or two, I would gladly pop them under her. That is unlikely to happen, though. So this little fuzzy might be it.

If anyone has any suggestions for a unisex name for 'It', feel free to comment.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

First Chick - First Pics

While obsessively watching Vera and her new chick, I noticed that the little micro chook had mixed up toes. It's outer toe crossed under the foot, so it couldn't walk properly. In fact, it was walking on the side of it's foot. So I googled, consulted some poultry peep friends of mine, and fitted it with a tiny shoe. Well, when I say shoe, I mean a plaster. The ever tolerant husband assisted by holding the plaster still, while I placed the chick's toes straight on it. Then we simply folded the plaster over the top, holding the toes in the correct position. The chick was unimpressed with this whole treatment, and cheeped it's tiny head off the whole time. Vera watched us carefully, but remained calm and once her little charge was returned to her, happily stashed it back under her wing. It seems that Vera has lost her appetite for small fuzzies.

Chick 1, sporting this seasons must have eyeliner.

If you look carefully, you can see that it's right foot is curled. The outer toe is not visible, but was curled under the foot and resting near the inner toe. By the time the shoe was fitted, the poor thing was desperate to get back to Vera so there is no comedy 'giant plaster shoe' pic.

Notice how I am saying 'it' in a feeble attempt not to get attached.

Who am I kidding.

Day 22 - First Chick!

So, here it is. The moment of hatching, captured by the ever tolerant husband:

I just hope that those are pecks of love, not contemplating a snack.

Day 22 - Pipping

So, as of Vera's toilet break mere minutes ago, this is the state of play:

She returned to the nest after pooing, drinking a gallon and scoffing a cropful of corn.