2 Legs and Feathers....
Now you thought when I said 2 legs I was talking about the human form, right? Well, yes, they are cute and adorable, but I was talking about baby chicks. Every year on the farm sometimes we would have around 100 chicks be born. They would come in all colors because we had a wide range of birds. We had some full blooded breeds like Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Light Brahmas, Leghorns and then we had all kinds of little banties. They were my favorite. Some of them were no bigger than a pigeon when full grown. The little roosters, boy could they have attitudes. Have you heard the saying, "strutting around like a banty rooster?" Well they strut all right, and sometimes they would act as though they were as large as our big Tom turkey. I had this one I called Malcolm. He was the cutest thing, and when I would go out the back door all I had to do was call his name and he would come running and then fly upon my arm. He liked to fly on people's heads too...surprise!!
Most people know it takes 21 days for a baby chick to be born. That starts the day the mother hen starts to sit (incubate) them. Now most people just think a baby breaks the shell with it's egg tooth (little pointed spot on the end of the beak) then it pops out. That is only partly true. I have held eggs in the palm of my hand many times as they were entering this world and the way they get out is incredible. They maneuver their little bodies in the shell in a circle, completely breaking the top part of the egg, (where the air sac is) until it is broken all the way around. While holding them you can feel them squirm and push with their feet to go in a circle around the egg, then when it is broke they push really hard with their little legs and push the top off. Now here is the part most people don't know. If you pull the other half of the shell off the chick it will most likely bleed to death. It is attached to the shell via a little cord much like our umbilical cord, and it must lay there and dry until the shell falls off on its own. Also, if you try and peel a chick out of the shell you can cause it to bleed to death. There are multiple little blood vessels lining the shell of the egg and when you consider how little a chick is the tiniest amount of blood loss can be fatal. Of course they come out all wet and their feathers are matted down but the next day they are little balls of cotton. A chick can live for 48 hrs after it is born, with no food or water because it is still drawing nutrients from the yolk sac. Isn't Mother Nature incredible!!! It's egg tooth falls off usually by the time it begins to eat.
|You can see how the the egg is chipped all the way around. And the egg shell up in the top right corner, you can see how it looks red, due to the blood vessels|
"Can you see me? This is my mom and she is keeping me warm."
4 Legs and Furry.....
Can you guess? A cow, a horse, a pig, (nope not furry) a rabbit, a kitten, how about a goat. Not one but two, twins! When we first started out with our goats the only way Lindsay could show them in 4-H was if they were milking. And in order to do that they had to have babies, right? What did we know about birthing goats, nothing! So when our first doe was due I was a nervous wreck. I thought if I am this nervous about a goat what will I be when the girls have babies? Sweetie Pie was the expecting mama, and she was just that~ sweet as could be. The big day soon arrived and thank goodness Art was home with me. She labored for hours and I begin to suspect something was wrong. When the two front hooves begin to show I was relieved (that is what shows first) until I realized they were NOT front hooves but back ones. OH boy!! Houston we have a problem. I called our friend who had owned goats for many years with a desperation cry of HELP! "What do I do?"
She told me to clean off my hands and arms with Iodine (which we had because you need that to treat their umbilical cords), then take off my rings (you don't want to loose them inside the goat) and get in there and pull like crazy. Really!!!!! And once you start pulling she said you can't stop because you have more than likely severed the umbilical cord and if you don't get the baby out ASAP it will suffocate. OK... no pressure! I thought hmmm how hard could this be, they are wet and slippery, should pop right out, nope, wrong again. I pulled with all my might but it would not budge, and my hands kept slipping off the legs. So I grabbed a towel and got a better grip and finally out she came. Pretty and black with big white spots....let me introduce Patches.
My joy was short lived as Sweetie Pie was still in labor, yep another baby. Goats typically have twins or triplets, and very rare but occasionally quads. Thank goodness she didn't do that! So here we go again, pull, pull, pull and now may I introduce Buttons, solid black with one tiny white spot on his head. Cutest things ever, they soon dried and began nursing and before long were bouncing around the pen with their long ears. They were Nubians and they have ears like a Basset Hound. Ok maybe now I wouldn't be as nervous when the girls had babies. :) Wrong again :)
2 Legs, Web Feet, and Feathers....
Even though animals amaze me with their instincts and their compassion it was not uncommon to have a knuckle brain for a mom. A goat who would ''refuse" to let her babies nurse, or a mama chicken who would peck her baby's head until it bled, or a rabbit who would kill all her newborns, I guess they were just like humans, some had the knack some didn't. So this time it was a duck who won the dumbest mother of the year award. She had hatched her babies but left one in the nest completely out of the shell except the bottom part that was still hanging there. When Lindsay found him he was cold, limp, and dead. She took it and laid it where Dad would bury it later on that evening. (He got lots of exercise burying animals believe me). Later on in the afternoon she had gone back out to the barn to check on the newborns that were with the mom, and she was searching for something where the little dead one laid and she happened to see its mouth move, OK it is not dead! She came running into the house with it and I immediately ran it under warm water. (the quickest way to warm them is by water)
and it wasn't long before he was holding up his head and responding. So the girls made some sugar water (hot water with Karo Syrup dissolved in it) and as soon as it was cool enough I started using a small syringe and squirting some in his mouth. That did the trick. He now was alert, standing on his own and peeping. A true miracle. How he had the strength to hang on in the cold for as long as he did I will never know. The girls raised him by hand and he became a big pet. Sugar water was my hero, I'm easily impressed can you tell? It always did the trick on a weak animal, and so simple to do. So there you have it, birthing stories and one miracle. There was never a dull moment here. I am going to miss all these happenings just not all the hard, physical work that went with it.
"Did you all enjoy reading about us?" "We are adorable aren't we?"
It is hard to believe that March is here and we are already 4 days in. We have been getting all the remaining jobs done so we can be ready to leave the first of April. I cannot believe how fast time is going. I am one year older as of March 1st and had a wonderful birthday thanks to family and friends. The house is starting to look bare and the fifth wheel is looking fuller. I can't wait until I can start posting again while living in nature and our new home. Only 27 more days left. Wow last time I said that on my post it was 40!!!
Best Wishes from Thorntown.