Sunday, April 30, 2006

14 days

The changes are pretty subtle for the last week.

So why am I not writing much these days? I don't know, not much to say I guess. I really busted my butt drawing this weekend and got quite a bit done. I put almost 100 more eggs in the incubator today. I will still collect eggs from the Black Rosecombs for a while longer, but probably not too much longer. The chicks are really a lot of work--twice a day feed and water, change light bulbs twice a day (white lights during the day, red lights at night... and then when it's really hot they get fluorescent light during the day and no light at night). Oh goodness, now I have to explain this, I can't resist. They need daytime and nighttime. Without a day/night cycle, they get extremely aggressive (they need sleep!). For the first week they get white light full-time, as aggression is not an issue at that age, they sleep a lot anyway, and they need to eat a lot. But after that I want them awake during the day and asleep at night. It's too chilly at night to turn the lights off, so I use red lights (but then when they are older, or when it's warmer, I will just shut the lights off entirely). They are somewhat active (versus how they would be with the lights off) but for the most part they will just sleep with the red lights on. In the daytime I switch to white lights, so they are up and eating. If it's too warm for regular lights, I use fluorescent so they don't get too hot. I have to use some light during the day because the brooders are dark enough that they will just stay asleep!

Anyway, that was long-winded and rambly, but there's today's lesson in light bulbs. :-)

Friday, April 28, 2006

12 days and other things

Big change overnight! Note that there is a bit more ambient light in this pic than in others, so the shell is picking up some reflection. I'll try to get a better one tomorrow...

The third batch of chicks hatched this Wednesday and Thursday. Caught me off guard, I'd forgotten I set them early since that was the weekend I went to Ventura, and it's hard to believe that was three weeks ago... Time does fly. It was a small batch, but a high hatch rate. I am going to try lowering the incubator humidity even more though because that may be part of the issue. It's always something. I think I may wrap up hatching pretty soon though (although the eggs will be hatching for three weeks after I stop putting them in the incubator!), and it's looking highly likely that I will be selling eggs.

Anyway, here are the numbers from batch 2, which will not interest you if you aren't a fellow chicken person! :-)

T: Brassy male & Blue Brassy male X Brassy, Blue Brassy, BBB Splash females = 4 Brassy, 5 Blue Brassy
B: BBRed male X Brown Red females = 6 BBRed, 2 Brown Red
T1: BBRed male X F1 Crele female = 1 BBRed
T2: F1 Crele male X BBRed females = 2 BBRed, 1 Crele (by this I mean it has a white spot on the head)
T4: Black male X F1 Cuckoo females = 1 Cuckoo, 2 Black
T5: Black male X F1 Cuckoo females = 1 Cuckoo, 4 Black
T7: Brown Red male X BBRed females = 3 BBRed, 3 Brown Red
N1: BBRed X BBRed = 3 BBRed
N4: Black X Black = 1 Brassy Back
N5: Black X Black = 4 Black

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

10 days

I am going to try to start photographing the same side of the egg every day.

If you haven't quite been able to figure out what it is I'm photographing, this is how it looks with the room light on. That black thing is the "candler" which is pretty much like a flashlight, except it plugs in to the wall. It was not plugged in when I took this pic though. So if I turn the lights off and plug the candler in, then it looks like the picture above!

I haven't talked about art for a while have I... Don't want you thinking all I do is sit around and candle chicken eggs. I'm still drawing chickens all the time, so there's really not much to talk about. I do need to get some horse art done within the next couple weeks so that I will have something to enter at Draft Horse Classic. I have one etching to enter, but I would like to submit at least two things. Hmmm...

Monday, April 24, 2006

8 days, and other things

So here's the egg at day 8. The embryo moves all over the place, but I happened to catch it on this side of the egg just by chance (the camera is on a tripod and I'm using a timer to take the pics, so it's pure chance to catch it). So it may or may not be there in other pics after this, just means it moves around a lot:

It really is amazing to think about the process of hatching (note, a chick does NOT hatch all nice and fluffy! They are wet and and kinda gross when they hatch! This one is about 48 hours old.):

In other news, Sampson, the colt I boarded for the last year, went home on Sunday. I think Shylah misses him. She hung out by the gate next to Gwen all day, which she hasn't done for a LONG time. She's been quiet and not neighed for him though. He'll be back for the occasional play date and some training sessions in the round pen, but he'll get to see his owner a lot more often now since he's with her other horses. So it works out well. I don't know what his measurements are now but he's a tank. When he came here he was the same height as Shylah (about 14 hands at the time) and now he towers over Gwen. There may be another horse moving in for boarding (not sure of the duration yet). More details if it happens... Here's a pic of Sampson though:

Nope, not in it

I just watched Fowl Play at my neighbor's house, and those are NOT my hands doing the bird-grooming. Sadly, I shall not be famous from this. I am in it though, far off in the distance I can be seen sitting at my art booth at PPBA in January. But you'd really not know it was me, it's a blob, but I know I was sitting there and therefore it's me. Anyway, it was entertaining.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

7 days

The embryo is along the bottom part of the egg at the moment when this was taken:

A QuickTime movie showing the embryo moving within the egg (they are quite lively!)

poultry on television

Be sure to watch "Fowl Play" on Animal Planet tonight at 8pm (it reruns a few other times too). Unfortunately I don't have cable so I won't be watching it but hopefully will be able to acquire a copy a bit later in the week. Should be interesting. I will know people in it. My birds might be in it. My hand might be in it (I was filmed while grooming a bird at the show in Stockton).

Saturday, April 22, 2006

6 days

Day 6 of incubation, blood vessels becoming more obvious, entire egg except air cell getting darker:

An embryo that died within the first week of incubation, showing the characteristic "blood ring":

An infertile egg. As the egg ages, the albumen (egg white) thins out and the yolk comes closer to the shell. That's that dark area you see in this egg. In a fresh egg, the "yolk shadow" isn't nearly this obvious:

An infertile egg with a very speckled shell, I'm showing you this just because it's interesting:

An egg that is hatching!:

There were three chicks hatched this morning, they should be done by tomorrow afternoon. I shot some QuickTime video of one while it hatched (through the hatcher door, through the wire, with a flashlight and my camera). The quality isn't good and they are huge files but I can post them here if anyone wants to see them.. let me know. I'd need to find a way to shrink them down, maybe turn them into zip files or something.

Friday, April 21, 2006

5 days

Normally I only candle eggs once a week, every Saturday or Sunday, so this is kind of new to me also to be looking at one every day. So if you're thinking "gosh, it was more obvious a few days ago" I'd have to agree in some ways. The blood vessels are now little threads all over around the air cell instead of just in one concentrated area, but as you can see they don't photograph particularly well. What I am trying to show in this photo is that egg takes on a two-tone appearance, with the pointy end getting noticeably darker.

It's been years since I took an embryology class so I can't explain WHY things look the way they do, and I'm not going to break these eggs open to get a better look. If you search the web for pics you can certainly find a lot, if that interests you.

When I go through all the eggs this weekend I will photograph an infertile egg and a dead egg (there are sure to be both) so you can see the difference.

Why is the egg reddish-orange? They just look that way when you shine a light through them! The infertiles are often more of a yellowish orange. Don't ask me why. :-) "That's just how it is."


This is mostly for my own records that I'm writing this (will I do it every week? Hard to say...) but I can think of at least three readers who will find it interesting. I cleaned brooders this morning and moved the first batch of chicks out to the storage room, and counted them all while I was at it. So, these are the breeding pens and what they produced this time around (the first letter/number combo refers to coop #):

T (Brassy Male & Blue Brassy Male X Brassy, Blue Brassy, BBB Splash females): 1 Splash, 3 Blue Brassy, 1 ??? (resembles T6 Silver chick, mismarked??? I'll know when it's older)

O2 (BBRed X BBRed): 5 BBRed

B (BBRed male X Brown Red females): 8 BBRed, 5 Brown Red

T1 (BBRed male X F1 Crele female): 5 BBRed, 2 Crele (is this sex-linked?)

T2 (F1 Crele male X BBRed females): 6 BBRed, 2 Crele (sex-linked?)

T3 (F1 Cuckoo male X Black female): 1 Cuckoo, 2 Brassy Back (?), 1 ??? (chick color is like Brassy Back with white spot on head, feathers are Cuckoo) (sex-linked?)

T4 (Black male X F1 Cuckoo females): 9 Cuckoo, 3 Black (sex-linked?)

T5 (Black male X F1 Cuckoo females): 6 Cuckoo, 9 Black (sex-linked?)

T6 (Silver Duckwing OE male X Black female): 1 ??? (chick color like BBRed but lighter, feather color appears stippled gray, so perhaps is Silver Duckwing, I would have expected Birchen-ish)

T7 (Brown Red male X BBRed females): 3 BBRed, 4 Brown Red

N2 (Black X Black): 1 Black

N3 (Black X Black): 3 Black

N4 (Black X Black): 1 Black, 3 Brassy Back (what??)

N5 (Black X Black): 1 Black

Thursday, April 20, 2006

4 days

I know, it's hard to see if you aren't used to looking at these things, but squint your eyes and sit back a bit. I have the egg at a different angle today, so you are also seeing a bit of writing on the shell, and the pale area there against the light is the air cell, which will continue to expand.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Olin and I were doing some chick-watching this evening. This is the first year I've used see-through brooders, so he's enthralled. He's a perfect gentleman about sitting down and watching them, but I wouldn't trust him alone with them for even half a second! Yes, he is licking his lips in that first pic!

3 days

Good news! The chosen egg is indeed fertile! It's easier to see this in person than it is in a photograph, but you can now see a dark spot (the embryo) surrounded by a system of blood vessels (a circle shape at this point, it'll expand as the embryo keeps developing. If you can't see it at all, the second pic has an arrow pointing at the embryo.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2 days

I had this nifty idea of something I can post on here: the development of a chick in the egg! So I will post a photo every day (or almost every day) to show the embryonic development. Note: no chickens will be harmed in the making of this series! I am going to take pictures while "candling" the eggs, which means shining a light through them so that the insides are visible.

So I set eggs Sunday afternoon, and here is a picture on day 2 of development:

If you are thinking it looks like absolutely nothing, you are right. This is indistinguishable (without cracking it open) from a non-incubated egg, because the embryo is not developed enough right now to be visible by candling.

The catch is, I don't know whether this egg is fertile or not. Probably, given which breeding pen it came from (it's a Cuckoo), but I won't know for sure til later in the week. If it's infertile I will switch to a different egg! They all look the same right now. :-)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Chickies!

Despite having gotten a late start on hatching this season, there is always something sort of neat about having the first hatch on Easter. And despite the fact that I have hatched thousands of chicks over the years, nothing diminishes the excitement of the first hatch of the season. They started pipping through the shells Friday afternoon. A few had hatched by Saturday morning, and then it was like popcorn til this afternoon. This is a HUGE hatch. It's not that the hatch rate was all *that* phenomenal (though I must say for my birds it was pretty darn good!) but I set a whole lot of eggs because I'd collected them for two weeks (usually I just collect for one week, but I didn't want them to hatch last weekend since I was not here!). So although they are sort of impossible to count, there are roughly 90 chicks. Now considering I only usually hatch about 250 per year, that's really kind of amazing. I have never had that many of all one age group before, so it will be a bit of a struggle to fit them into the brooders (usually it's more like 20-30 per week!) But, I'll figure it out somehow! It'll still take a while to hatch enough Blacks, but I can definitely stop collecting eggs from the Cuckoos and Creles. Holy moley I have Cuckoos coming out my ears! They had a great hatch rate, so with three more weeks of them still in the incubator, I ought to have way more than enough of that color.

The view when I opened the hatcher door (the door is see-through but it doesn't photograph well with the door closed!) But it was time to take the chicks out, so I took a pic:

Tray #1:

Tray #2:

There were still a couple of stragglers in the incubator at this point, but that's essentially all the chicks in the brooder box that they will quickly outgrow...:

Awww, chickies!:

It amazes me how fast they find the food and water:

I can't resist going into the room to watch them from time to time. They are pretty funny. They are the perfect age right now, less than a day old.. They aren't afraid of me yet (by tomorrow they probably will be). Like all babies, they spend most of their time sleeping, and the rest of it eating and pooping... They are a mass of fuzzy warm wonderfulness. And soon they will be wild little bratty things, and then in a few months they bloom into beautiful show birds.

There are a lot of "life lessons" with the birds, I guess you could say. You deal with the whole life cycle, and sometimes the hardest part of that is when the life cycle is very short. Of all the eggs that go into the incubator, you know that some will not hatch, either because they aren't fertile to begin with, or because they die along the way. Sometimes that's environmental (incubator temperature, etc), but mostly it's genetic. It's sad when they develop all the way but don't hatch. Or sometimes they can get themselves almost all the way out of egg but can't finish the job. I'm a softie, I help the stragglers, but often they don't live anyhow. Of all the chicks that hatch, you know that not all will live. It's just part of life. I don't want to say that you "get used to it" as that sounds a bit cold-hearted, but you come to accept it.

There were some interesting things I noticed in this hatch.. The Brassies and Blue Brassies had an unusually high embryonic mortality rate. I don't recall seeing that in past years, so I'll have to keep on eye on that. I had thought the Crele X BBRed chicks were all turning out BBRed, but some of them have a white spot on the back of the head... so... hmm, perhaps they are Creles? Who knows. Pen #4 of the Black birds threw 3/5 Brassy Back this time. Ack! Brassy Back supposedly originated as a sport of from Black. I usually get two or three a year, total, from the Blacks, but three out of five in one batch?!!? I may need to switch males.. If they are good Brassy color they should have phenomenal type (they are, after all, 100% Black in terms of genetics), but really I would rather hatch out Blacks! Hmm. And the Cuckoos (Cuckoo male x Black female) are throwing Brassies again too.

I guess that's why I named it "Random Rosecombs." ;-)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Nine Hundred and Eighty

I am soooo tired. I left here Friday morning. 980 miles later, I am back. I went to Ventura for a poultry show (~6 hours), visited relatives who live near there, drove to Riverside (~2 hours) Sunday morning and stayed with relatives there, and then came back home (~7 hours) today. I had a GREAT trip, it was so nice to see everyone. Plus I got to do the sunshine/beach thing, which was a pleasant break from the eternal rain and gloom we seem to be having here. Diva won Best RCCL but she just wouldn't "show" so she didn't go any farther than that. The only thing Diva lacks is attitude. I can't fault a single part of her conformation, but she just doesn't have that winning attitude and she doesn't bother to try to show off. Oh well. So show season is officially over now. Chicks are due the 15th. Show season starts again in the fall, with the possible (?) exception of one or two during the summer. I am way too tired to give you all the mindless details of the trip so I'll give you a "virtual roadtrip" instead. Now don't holler at me about taking pics on the road. I swear to you I was not distracted, I didn't even look at the camera, just held it up and pressed the button and hoped for the best. Needless to say in addition to these I ended up with a lot of crooked pics, pics of the car door, steering wheel, dashboard, etc.

Where I ate lunch on Friday, a vista point along 5 in central CA. Vista points are my favorite lunch spot if I have packed a lunch with me. Note the incredible flatness of the Central Valley.

I have always been somewhat fascinated by these oil well thingies. When I was a kid I thought they looked like dinosaurs. This is on 5 right before I left the central valley and went into the mountains:

The view out the window of my hotel room, I guess technically you could call that "ocean view." If you look past 101 and the train tracks (um yeah, kinda loud! Not much sleep!) you can see the ocean...

The ocean:

Sunset in Ventura:

Same time as above, watching the sunset from the Ventura Pier.

The beach right behind the fairgrounds. Lots of surfers were out that day!

Same as above.

Live-size metal mastodon sculpture on a mountainside along 60 near Riverside (bugs on windshield too!)

Heading into some rain.. on 210 just before getting onto 5 north (on the return trip, of course).

Really interesting clouds today along 5 in central CA.

Moo! Cows in a feedlot.

And so with that I will bid you all adieu and go to bed because I am just ridiculously tired.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A near cat-tastrophe

There isn't anyone else to blame it one, so I'm going to blame the cats. There's no other explanation. I was up late drawing last night, as usual, and at the end of the night before I turned my light off I left one drawing on the upper left corner of my table (resting on top of the colored pencils, which are all flat out on the table) and one drawing centered on the table. That's pretty much where I always have them. It's very stiff paper, it doesn't warp or bend or get any odd marks on it from sitting atop the pencils.

At least not til last night...

Today, when I sat down and got to work, I picked up the drawing I'd left on the upper left (a White Polish male) and HOLY CRAP it was dented! A lot! There were two quarter-size spots with multiple indentations, and it absolutely looked like the blunt ends of the pencils had been pushed into the back of the paper. It wasn't like that last night, and it hadn't been moved.

All I can think is that one of the kitty boys got up there early this morning with wet feet (and yet there are NO footprints on the paper or the white tabletop!) and stood on the drawing, and the combination of wet and pressure indented the paper. And here I was thinking they were quite well trained to stay off of there, but I guess that's just while I'm looking!

The good news is it was totally fixable. I took the drawing into the laundry room and spritzed it with water til the whole thing was damp and "limp" and then put it between blotter papers and put a stack of large books on top. It's flat now, just needs to finish drying. Since the pencils are wax-based it doesn't hurt them at all, not that I recommend wetting artwork, that's one of those things that should have a disclaimer "do not try this at home!"

But that totally freaked me out at first. I would have been mighty unhappy if I would have needed to redo it! Time to start covering the art at night!

In other somewhat cat related news, I bought a black light at the pet store today. Did you know that one of the recommended uses is to "check for sanitary conditions" in a motel room? OMG, I think if I shined that around a motel room I would probably be scarred for life and never stay in one again. Yuck, I don't even want to think about that!

Here are some cute pics of the dogs I took when it was raining (took them through a glass door and screen door, hence poor quality.) Well it's been raining pretty much forever, I should clarify.. I took them yesterday I think.

"Let sleeping dogs lie!"

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bird Flu Song

Oh yes, there is some truth in this!

Check the original website while you're at it.

And don't forget this one.

Fashion Advice

Are any of my readers fashion experts? I need help. I am fashion-impaired. I will wear the wrong thing to the wrong event in the wrong season, because I don't know any better. I have ZERO fashion sense. If I could wear jeans and a t-shirt to everything, I totally would. However, there are times when that's not possible (and actually I get a kick out of dressing up, as long as I get it right, which is rare!).

So.. I'm going to a wedding in early May. It's indoors, late afternoon/evening. Are there certain colors I should avoid? (obviously I'm not going to wear white, I do have enough sense not to do that, plus it makes me look like a beluga whale anyhow). Is it okay to wear dark colors to a wedding? Like black for example? (not ALL black, but for example a black/red floral print?). Or do I need to go with a more spring-like theme? I may actually need to go shopping, which is dreadful, I get a headache when I go to the mall, and haven't been to the mall for about two years now (guys, it's a MYTH that all women like to shop).

Oh, and here's a question for the ladies who routinely do the dressup thing-- what do you do with your wallet and keys? You take a purse, right? Should it be a cute little purse, or the usual big clunker? What do you do with a purse while you are walking around chatting, or if by some remote miracle you end up dancing? (*gasp*) Do you carry it with you the whole time? Or do you leave it at your table? I'm totally serious, I never really know what to do, I'm the type to wear something with a pocket and stick my drivers license and car key in my pocket and not worry about it, but let's say I have a pocket-less outfit, since I most likely will...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Website Update

The poultry tiles (original ink drawings on marble tiles) are now available on my website. I got the paypal stuff all set up tonight. Check it out. They'll be worth millions some day. Don't delay, act now! ;-)

April Fool? Not really but it scared me!

Well I got quite a scare today. I had to pick up my artwork from a pizza shop in town where it had been hanging for the last two months. So this morning while eating breakfast I was trying to remember which art pieces I had showing there (yeah, how pathetic is that!). I could only think of three, though I had this nagging notion that I'd submitted four. But for the life of me, I could only come up with three. So I got to the restaurant, and there were three of my images on the wall--the three I'd been thinking of. Dang, but didn't I take four? I really couldn't remember. I didn't want to say anything at the time, because I knew if I said "oh my gosh I'm missing one!" it would end up being something stupid like I'd never hung it up in the first place, and considering I couldn't even figure out what one I was potentially missing, I just left it at that and decided I'd never hung four at all. So I got home and just kept thinking there should have been one more. I looked at the photos I'd taken when I hung the show, and sure enough there was a fourth!!! I was missing "Cockadoodledooooo!!!" an original lithograph. Crap!!! Why didn't I say something while I was there?!

So I called the art curator and told her I was missing a piece. I was pretty upset by this point, I was so mad that someone would steal my art, and I was thinking of all the money I'd lost on it, and how I didn't want to show my art at local places anymore, etc. I called the owner, told him who I was and explained the problem.. told him I didn't say anything when I was in there because I wasn't sure, I needed to check to see that I really had brought four, etc, I didn't hold them responsible, there was nothing they could do, I just wanted him to know, blah blah. And then he said "I think we moved that one, hang on, I'll go check."

So yeah, it was there all along, on a different wall where I hadn't looked and wouldn't have thought to look, or I may have even looked right at it but it just didn't click (because I wouldn't have expected it in that location, and it wasn't a piece I remembered bringing anyway!).

I felt like SUCH an idiot. But I am soooo glad it wasn't stolen, and if I ever have that nagging feeling again I will speak up! If I had, he surely would have said "oh, yeah we moved that one, it's over there!"

Sheesh. It's kind of been like that all day today. One of those days.

On the bright side it didn't rain much. Actually I'm not sure it rained at all here, but I went through some while driving into town. I gave Shylah a pretty good workout today. She was really quite full of it today and somewhat bratty, but after running her in circles for a while I put the long reins on and did the first lesson in reining (just using the halter at this point, I have this notion that if I can get her trained first in a halter she will be pretty sensitive in a bridle). She caught on quickly, she responds to pressure very nicely. Going in a straight line will take some work, but it didn't take long to get her walking in circles and turning when I asked her to. It will take time though. She needs to have a very solid foundation before I put my butt in the saddle! :-)