Staggering hatches can get a little tricky, and somehow a couple weeks ago I found myself with a single half-baked Silkie egg. Rather than dealing with the issue, I popped the egg into the closest warm incubator then promptly forgot all about it.
Fast forward to Friday night, when I was greeted in the incubator room by a little creature yelling at me from inside an incubator where no little creatures were scheduled to hatch for another few days! That’s when I remembered. Oops.
Wow, little fuzzybutt must have hatched all on her own! She had no lockdown, no increased humidity; pipping and zipping outta her shell all while riding in an actively turning turner. I had to admire her determination. Moving her to the brooder where she could wait safely for the other chicks to hatch, I set her up with a soft swiffer mama to snuggle (lacking a feather duster), some food, water and heat, and went on my way.
Based on the natural law that says if anything can possibly go wrong it will, Saturday morning at 10:43 we lost power.
DH hauled his 50 lb. backup battery into the inc room, and we plugged the ‘bators in, covered them with towels to reduce heat loss, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
But what to do with fuzzybutt? Her heat lamp was off, as she was so loudly reminding us. I considered putting her back in the inc, but worried she might snap a leg in the turner. I considered taking her out to my mama hen, but her chicks were a whole week older and twice fuzzybutt’s size. Plus it was full daylight. I usually sneak extra chicks under hens in the dark. So I fastidiously wrapped her bottom half in paper towel and put her inside my shirt. She wasn’t super happy about her new abode, but finally settled down and took a nap, while I sat in my chair knitting, listening to the wind howling through the trees and the rain thrumming on the skylight and praying for the power to come back on soon.
Any faint novelty around acting the part of mama hen wore off as the day wore on, with fuzzybutt either fitfully dozing or complaining loudly about her fate. I am slightly ashamed to admit that after a couple of hours with no power I had had enough. DH’s battery had run dry and I had two incubators full of rapidly cooling eggs on my hands and a whiny baby strapped to my chest. When BC Hydro posted online that the power was going to be out all day I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures. Marching outside and down to the hen hotel, I dug fuzzybutt out of her paper towel nest and presented her to my silver pencilled Plymouth Rock hen and chicks.
“What the heck?” I could see Mama hen thinking, as she peered closely at this tiny, loudly caterwauling chick. She pecked at her once or twice, but not violently, and fuzzybutt just raised both her stubby winglets above her fuzzy head and yelled louder. In that moment I almost understood Chicken; I swear I could hear her demanding “WARM ME UP!”. Since I could see that mama likely wasn’t going to kill her, plus I had heard more than enough whining, I left them to get acquainted, and escaped back to the house.
Each time I went out to the barnyard on Saturday afternoon, I could hear little fuzzybutt yelling. At least she was still alive I thought. By the time the power came on again at 6 pm, it was quiet. Mama had put her children, including fuzzybutt, to bed. I was happy to leave the little complainer right where she was, and even happier on Sunday morning when I could still hear the complaining as I walked out to the barnyard to do morning chores.
Today, Monday, fuzzybutt is too busy running around keeping up with her big sisters and brothers to make much noise, and her patient Mama is having a bit of an easier time of it.
And the incubators full of eggs? DH and I have our fingers crossed still. I will just have to see what hatches and start over if needed. A minor setback, and all in a day’s work around here.
I think I will name my silver pencilled rock hen, as I do all my stand out flock members. She has earned it. Hmmmmmm. What to call her?