they say one should never help a chick hatch from an egg, that it needs the struggle in order to get its little heart pumping enough for it to live. (similarly, a moth must fight its way out of a cocoon, Charlie must fight his way out of a cave...) anyway, what am i holding in my hands in the above picture but living proof that that's not true!
the 17th my chicks were due to hatch. when i came in the morning, there were 2 little chicks already walking around the incubator, stumbling over the other eggs. by noon, we had five little chicks and one on the way (or so we thought!) number five was stuck in his shell! he only managed to get his beak out, and was bleeding profusely through the little hole he had made. my kids were all sure he was doomed. we waited a few hours and i said we'd have to decide if we should break him out of the shell or wait. when they went home, i started peeling him out. he bled and bled and bled! he was barely breathing! i made him a little nest and put him back in the incubator to rest. a few hours later, i put him under the heat lamp so that i could take him home. and as i opened the incubator, what did i hear but "pio pio pio!"
i looked around - he was fast asleep, so who else could it be? then i discovered that one more egg was chirping! the hole it had made in its egg was the size of a pin prick! i figured if i didn't get him out soon, he would probably die. so i peeled back a little bit of his shell, but he didn't move at all! oh no!
eventually i peeled back the whole hard shell, and found to my amazement that he was still tightly wrapped up in another layer of soft-shell! (you know how when you crack an egg, it has that thin film inside it? well apparently it gets a lot thicker when a chick is growing...) he was so weak he couldn't even get out of that! so i started to peel that back, and like his brother he started bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. i started crying of course.
i finally got him out, and my hands were all covered in blood. i put him in the nest in the incubator and waited a while. he was still egg shaped! a perfect oval! i picked him up to give him some water, but i couldn't even really tell where his head was. then i discovered he was under yet another layer, this one was kind of a gooey hood that was holding him in place! i peeled that back (and he kept bleeding more) and then gave him some water. i tucked him into his nest and waited more.
finally i had to go home... i put him under the heat lamp and loaded up my chickies in the car. he was a fragile little mess! i checked on him all night (both of my weak little babies, that is) and gave them water.
in the morning, they were all fluffed out! and walking! and drinking! and eating! and cuddled up with the other chicks! if i hadn't noticed the markings on their heads i wouldn't even know which ones they were! it was so awesome.
anyway, my kids all want a chick so they can fatten it up and eat it, but i think those two little guys might have to stay with me. :-)