Monday, September 2, 2013

The Life Cycle is Complete- part 1

We have eggs. A dozen eggs in a basket that was laid by the chickens living in our yard. 

Although we have seen a complete life cycle- from egg to chick to chicken to egg. . . it was not perfect, we had some mishaps along the way. Which should be expected for our first time. InshaAllah, God Willing, we will do better our next time around. This was our journey.

A local farm in Baltimore, MD provides a service to homeschoolers where she rents out an incubator and gives you fertile eggs. We received 18 eggs and an incubator.

Her farm is pretty interesting, first her neighbors are a rock throw away, meaning they are very close and not acres away like a typical farm. Her farm is not the neatest, in fact her chickens are everywhere.  .  . she has many of them and they all seem happy! But chickens are not the only animals on her farm, she has many other animals including horses that she uses teach riders.

I can't help looking at the pictures of her chickens and wonder which ones were the hen and rooster that produced the eggs that were given to us.

We took the incubator and kept it on a desk in the middle of our living room. It greeted us as we opened our front door and everyday was filled with anticipation of when our eggs would hatch.

I created a worksheet to record the incubation period and more importantly to remind us to turn the eggs and check the temperature and humidity. It is advised to label one side of the egg with an "X" and other side with an "O", then turn the eggs three times a day, so that either the X or O is on the top. I did give each egg a number, although, it is not required.

The first day we put our eggs in the incubator, we set the temperature between 99 and 102 degrees F (37.2 to 38.9 C) as advised. However, when I awakened in the morning and checked on the temperature, to my surprise it read between 104 and 105, I thought we killed all 18 eggs! I wrote a letter to the farmer asking for more eggs that I was scared we killed them. I was sad, disappointed that we messed up from the very beginning, and wondered if I was in over my head. Then I started to do some research, thanks to Google, and found mixed ideas about the health of the eggs. We decided to keep the eggs and candle them after day 9 and see if they were actually killed.

You can definitely compare candling the egg, to an ultrasound: the objective being is to see life. Our hearts were overjoyed to see the veins for the first time and then the heartbeat. Our Beloveds were beaming with excitement, I on the other hand was just happy that I did not kill all of them.

Then came day 21.

Our first hatched "Pecker" was the only one who pecked his way out in a perfect circle. He was the one that called to the other chicks to come out of their shells, he was a leader from the start. He was destined to be our favorite.

They didn't all hatch at once, each hour or day we would add more chicks to their brooder. I am sure it is because we didn't have the right humidity or temperature at any given time. There was definitely something we did wrong, as we only had 7 hatch out of the 18 eggs we started with.

We had a little guy that looked lethargic after hatching, we thought if he makes it- it would be a miracle. So we named him: Miracle. Miracle held a special place in our heart, he was extremely friendly and just physically gorgeous, mashaAllah.

We built our brooder to house our chicks out of the free boxes you get from Costco to carry your groceries. The heat lamp was a regular clip on lamp.

We used an office supply that I had around for the watering hole and placed some stones at the bottom so the chicks would not drown or get too wet. We put the chick feed in an egg carton. 

We placed crumpled up advertisements on the floor of the brooder. Although, it isn't advised to keep newspaper in there for long as it is to slippery for their growing legs. We later changed the litter to an eco friendly brand.

We spent this time learning about the life cycle, about the egg, and about the chicken. Although we spent traditional classroom time, I will say most of our learning happened from living with the chicks and taking care of them. You can read things in books and on the internet, we checked out many books from the library, but you really don't know until you experience it.

For example as our chicks grew, we learned about their feathers. We saw which set of feathers grew first, how they changed from down feathers, and the problem solving minds of my Beloveds were able to develop.

More feathers means the chicks needed more room. My wonderful Beloveds to the rescue, they just added another box to the brooder, Walaa!

The chicks also became our artistic muse in drawing and . . .

 in photography!

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