Tuesday, 4 May 2010

From egg season to chick season

We had our first hatch of the season today. We've officially moved from Egg Season to Chick Season.

The process is pretty simple. The eggs are placed in the incubator (this is one of four machines):

A week before hatching we transfer them to the aptly named hatching machines (no moving parts, water to soften the membrane to make it easier for the chick to get out of the shell):

They hatch in here, and when you open the door on a Tuesday morning at 11am you find this:

Each tray has between 100-200 day old pheasants:

Here's a tray with the lid off, with pheasant chicks ready to be counted:

And helpers counting:

And here they are in their transport boxes, waiting to be taken up to the rearing field and cared for under a light in a warm shed:

There are variations in color sometimes too, but they're all equally cute:

We always give the latecomers a hand if they need it. The foot gives us the first clue they're "stuck":

So we peel off the top of the shell for them:

and let them kick it free and dry off, and rest.

It's very tiring being born.

It's also tiring on us. We just finished chores including dog and horses, checking traps (still no crows) and repairing broody coops ready for chickens to hatch next week. It's past 9pm. I'm going to have some dinner (that is if drinking a glass of wine in the shower counts as dinner) and get to bed. I'm due to meet Ted the woodsman tomorrow morning at 7am to get the fencing done at Milkweed Farm. I will be rubbing sleep out of my eyes and Ted will have already done 3 hours work by then.

I'm apprenticing myself to Ted so I can learn a bit more about fencing. I'll post the least embarassing photos, the ones where I'm not falling over or accidentally stapling my shirt between the netting and fence stake. I managed to burn all the brush that Nigel left from laying the hedge in one hard day, and my shoulder is still angry at me for it. We're using a tractor-mounted post rammer tomorrow. Thank god for machinery.

Hatching is every Tuesday for the next few months. Next week we're hatching partridge chicks. Same process, smaller chick. And in between there will be more chicken chicks hatching out of the incubators at home. I hope there's enough wine and hot showers to keep me going.


Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

WOW! You are a hard worker Jennifer! Don't forget to eat and rest.

Maria said...

Oh lord... industrial pheasant hatching process! not in a bad way, i'm not "dissing" you as it were, just overwhelmed at the sight of so many pheasant chicks... and next week partridge chicks.
by the way, tractor-mounted post pounder sounds like the way forward (and I've only ever built a tiny fence, a one-day volunteer job for the RSPB).

Terry Scoville said...

That is quite the operation you have. Here's to hot showers and ample sleep to get you through.

Paula said...

Jen- why all the pheasant babies? Are they for releasing so the the guns will have something at which to shoot? Or are you mailing to people as wants them? Just curious.

...and for the record, a glass of wine in the shower certainly does qualify as dinner, but then, so does a dry gin martini (three olives, please) in front of the telly....or maybe you're just asking the wrong person....

Kevin F. said...

Just another reason to envy Mike!
A bunch of cute hot chicks every Mon. night.
I tell ya the guys life just does not suck. LOL
Kevin F.

Jennifer Montero said...

Karen - Only in fits and starts. The minute my work is done I'm the first one in bed and snoring!

Maria - no "diss" taken, and you're right it feels industrial sometimes though we're nowhere near the scale of some game farms. We're small peanuts really. I bet you got a lot out of your fence buiding, kudos for your volunteer work!

Terry - Hot showers and ample sleep, sounds like a post title after one of your hunting trips! And Thank god for both.

Paula - You would be welcome to all the pheasant babies your could take on with you! I will trade you for that dry martini.

Kevin - Mike says there's more action than one man can handle, you're wlecome anytime to take some chicks off his hands, though rumor has it you've got your hands full with Blondie.

Some of this batch were for our field, and some were a custom hatch of eggs for a neighboring shoot. next week's partridge are all for us. They're really cute, and about the size of a big bumblebee.