Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Remember when this used to be a Knitting Blog?

Yeah, me too.  Then I said to my husband, "We should get chickens and raise them."

Famous last words.

Yes, there are birds in that incubator, but you have to look REAL close. Our hatching survival rate for ducks this year has been dismal: 20%. So I threw out the rule book and decided to assist the buggers in hatching.  We had 20 eggs with 4/19 written in pencil  on them.  Of that 20: 3 were infertile, 2 died in the egg, one died after 2 days of life (aspirated yolk, he was looking good for a while) and that one top left - who is still amazingly alive.

I thought he was dead. I'm not kidding, I SWEAR TO GOD I thought he was dead. I massaged him, poked him a bit in the shell to see any movement: None. Of course, I was poking and massaging the wrong end of him. You see, 3 of my eggs were presenting backwards; a sort of breech birth.  It's nerve-wracking not seeing that cute beak where it should be.  And the fact that it's turned 180 degrees means you're working blind.  The landmarks to show you where to tweeze, cut and pull back are totally gone.

Incidentally, All I've learned from hatching eggs can be found here: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/48726/incubating-hatching-eggs-important-topic-index-please-review

It's not for the faint of heart, nor for anyone with unsteady hands.  These 14 I've been working on have taken me since Sunday to get this far.  Five are in the nursery, and the rest are in the incubator.
So I figured since the duckie was expired, AND that I had another 2 breech births to attend, maybe there's some sort of rhyme or reason to their position. Maybe it's the same for breech births (It is, btw).  So I decided to practice extracting a breech on the dead duck.

I chipped away at the shell til I got to the membrane. The membrane in fertile eggs contains many veins, and if you attempt to help a chick out too fast, it will bleed out.  You have to patiently wait for those veins to dry up and for the blood to be reabsorbed into the duck/chicken/goose/bird. IF you know what you're doing, you can sloooowwwwly ( I mean glacially slow) ascertain the progression of blood out of the veins and into the bird and clip around the big ones slowly drawing the membrane back from the chick until it can wiggle it's way out of there.

In the dead duck's egg,  I clamped some veins, cut through the membranes a bit and found his neck.  Sliding the rest of the head out, I looked at the bugger and saw..."Sorry you didn't make it, dude." To which he peeped at me.

I damned near fell off my chair.  I massaged his chest, with his body still 1/2 in the shell.  He peeped again! Oh hey! "Hi little dude! Shall I call you Lazarus?"

He's lounging in the incubator now.  His umbilical + Yolk have some time left to reabsorb and I don't know if he'll make it but he's got a shot.

Knitting? Yeah, I knit at night when I get a chance.  Mostly hats. One baby blanket and one baby sweater on the needles.  The rest can wait.

Oh, and did I mention it's finals week? 

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