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Monday, 26 August 2013

Mixed emotions.

We are still being plagued with incubator problems. We paid out for a new fully automatic one before leaving the UK and have had nothing but trouble with it. Of course, no chance of activating a garantee.

With our first clutch of silver wyandotte eggs, set shortly after we arrived in Bulgaria, the first problem was the stoems and with them, power cuts. Nevertheless some eggs were developing. Then the automatic turner packed up, followed by more storms, resulting in losing all the chicks at different stages, a couple at almost full term.

When we got the Shumens the hens had been with an unrelated cockerel, so we collected their eggs for incubation for two weeks. The first ten were set into the new incubator which seemed to be working again after making sure all connections were good. But then it started developing problems with temperature and the humidity alarm kept going off. And they stopped turning again. So before the next batch of eggs went in they were transferred to an old incubator which seemed to be holding it's temperature ok. Dave diligently turned the eggs three times a day and lo and behold, on the 21st day three were pipping, trying to fight their way out. They were all from the same hen. The others have shown no sign. But then the first one gave up and died before getting any further, the second one hatched with no problem and is strong and vocal, as did the third, which is noticably weaker and still vocal. They are so tiny, but then they have come out of small eggs.

Later, Dave checked the eggs still in the incubator and found, although most were fertile, they had died a while back, so it must have been down to the move. We are leaving the second lot of eggs in, they should hatch somewhere at the end of the week if they are viable.

So a bit of a sad time. We don't hold out much hope for the second chick. They are now under a lamp and quite active, but we are going to go to the local market tomorrow to see if there are any day-olds to keep the strong one company if the worst should happen. Luckily chicken feed is cheap and we will have something  to sell at the beginning of next year. Good job we have plenty of sheds!

Bella is fascinated. She was in the bedroom as often as she could make it yesterday, as was Bonnie, listening to cheeping. And now they are in the shed she is desperate to be on chick watch. I think she would like to wash bums! We are off out to buy more chick crumb as the stuff we bought from the vet is full of moths.

We had another visit from the black dog yesterday. Luckily I saw it arrive and make for the chicken pen and Dave shooed it back to where it came from and put more stones at the bottom of the fence. The electric fence is being activated at night and hopefully if it comes in it will get a shock and leave. Unfortunately our English neighbours are not bothered about garden visitors so have not mended their fence in the four years they have been here, so the dog can get into there and from there to our's, which is down and hidden beneath lots of rhus growth. That will be dying down soon and we will be able to get on with fencing animals out...and our girls in.

Venka came over with a plate of figs and a couple of cucumbers yesterday, and another bottle of veg sauce, this time it looks like peas in tomatoes. She indicated the ripe tomatoes and peppers still on the plants and we had to tell her we just couldn't use any more, then showed her a picture of the laden shelves in the cellar. She laughed and understood! Even so, Dave felt obliged to pick a large bowl full this morning.

We had a visit from a hoopoe on the lane outside the house. I have been trying to get a photo since we moved here, and this one seems to have taken pity on me.

We got the chick crumb, but as we were out we thought we would make a detour and find the lakes and river we had been told was quite good for wildlife watching, though it is too late for the breeding season. At least we will know where to go next spring, and it is close to us. We found it OK, and it was fairly busy with people fishing and horse and carts whizzing here there and everywhere. There are a couple of areas being used as a tip which is a shame. Generally everywhere is looking very dry and crisp away from he tree-lined roads and rivers. The sunflower and maize harvests are nearly in, and if it wasn't for the blazing sunshine you would think we were in autumn.

So, I have managed to snap my first wild mammal. This is a European souslik, (ground squirrel) which is on the vulnerable list, one step from being endangered. It is an important food of several raptors and martens...and very cute!

We saw plenty of lizards, but only briefly, before they vanished. But we did see a lot of frogs, thousands of fish fry and some lovely scenery.

Also a beautiful flower which seems to be a sedge

And thousands upon thousands of small white snails attached to plants, looking like flowers, there were so many.

So then we come to the not so pleasant, but a good reason to return when we are more able to sit and wait to see what turns up. Two lots of poo, or spraints, which we think the larger one will be otter, there are lots of fish scales and other bits, as there are in a small one. Hmmmm. Don't know if there are mink around here. Definitely worth returning with Dave's camera.
Also we were being tracked by a pair of birds of prey. At first we thought they were ordinary buzzards, but their cry was unfamiliar to us. My camera could not pick them up, mainly because of the sun on the view thingy. Whoever decided to remove the eye viewfinder and replace it with a screen you can't see in the sun on digital cameras needs a good talking to.

And did I mention that Dave cleaned the car yesterday? Oh dear, look at it now!


  1. Did you open your unhatched eggs to see when they stopped,developing?? Storms play havoc with the humidity levels in incubators and quite often the dead in shell have drowned, the egg needs to lose one third by volume in evaporation to allow room for the chick to turn. Other problems could be are the parents getting a breeders ration?? Weak embryos can be down to bad parent nutrition.
    Eggs are best kept for A maximum of,7 days before setting , fertility can drop at 10% per day for everyday after that, eggs need to be kept pointed side down, cool and at an angle of 45'degrees and turned regularly.
    Incubators are designed to operate in temperatures lower than themselves so if you have had a very hot summer and the outside temp is actually higher,than the incubator then it cannot cope and " cooks" the eggs.
    Chicks should start to pip from day 18 the fact that yours got out and then died shows a weakness, old egg? Bad nutrition? Lots of things.

    1. Ky, I have emailed you. Can you let me know if you got it?