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The Story of Pip

Okay, last one, I promise.

Just before an egg hatches, the chick turns itself around to a very particular position so it can chip away at the shell. Once it’s in place, it makes one small hole to breathe through. This is called a pip. It’s also a verb, to pip.

It’s very hard work for the little beast, and the chick rests afterwards – sometimes as long as 24 hours – before continuing to crack the end off the egg and emerge, wet and exhausted. It’s the most dangerous time in a chicken’s life and a considerable number come right up to the end and don’t make it.

I put four fertile eggs under Jenny. And finally, after staring at her on coopcam for over a month (thanks to the first six dud eggs), one pipped. I saw it when Jenny got up for a bite to eat and a poop. I was beyond excited.

A day passed and Mo hatched. Then Sam and Mollie. Forty eight hours and no more out of the first egg to pip. I picked it up and peered in the hole, fearing the worst, and out came a tiny pink beak. I almost dropped it! Back under mama and, not all that long afterwards, out comes Pip.

It was obvious what happened: she had a bald patch on her back. That means it wasn’t humid enough during the hatch and she stuck to the inside of the egg. Had to tear her way out, poor little beastie. She was otherwise a beautiful little chick, noticeably smaller than the others, a yellow fuzzball with a gray blaze across her right eye. Goodness knows what color she would have been (or whether she would have been a girl, to be fair, but I had a feeling about her).

A couple of weeks in, I was supervising an outing on the grass and I hadn’t noticed Jack the cat coming around the corner. He went for them like lightning. I scooped him up before he quite reached them (goodness knows what he would have done), but the babies had panicked and gone everywhere.

I managed to collect them all, except Pip. She was nowhere. I knew Jack hadn’t had her, so she had to be in the hedge somewhere, I just had to find her before a villain did. I settled in and listened and sure enough, two hours later, a frantic peeping. She’d worked her way back to the henhouse, but somehow got stuck between two layers of chicken wire.

Pip triumphant.

And then she really vanished. One morning, she just wasn’t there. I reviewed the video footage. She tumbled out of the nest with the others and hopped into the run. An hour later when I went out to feed them, she was gone. Not a trace, other chickens perfectly calm. I couldn’t believe it. I searched for days.

The only thing I could think was that she’d squeezed out of the run and something got her. There were a couple of tiny gaps under the edges (mice busily dig them overnight to get to any dropped bits of chicken food). I didn’t think she could get through them. I truly didn’t. But she was very small and little animals can do amazing things. No, I’m not convinced, but what else?

I was disproportionately upset. I’m still salty about it. I had spun this whole saga of “plucky chick surviving against the odds” right up until she didn’t. Once again, reality didn’t give a shit about my narrative.

Eh, enough of that. It’s the weekend! Wait, why does that matter again?


Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: May 22, 2020, 8:52 pm

Or, as the Dowager Countess of Grantham said, “What is a weekend?”

Comment from Pupster
Time: May 22, 2020, 9:41 pm

Still waiting for my happy ending.


Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: May 22, 2020, 10:22 pm

Memorial Day.

This morning I sprang from my chair at the sound of big ass radial and in-line aircraft engines roaring overhead.

A B-25, escorted by 6 fighters.
Followed by a second wave of 6 or 7 PT trainers
Followed by what I think was a(the?) Beechcraft Starship 2000.

What a stirring sound it was.

Comment from BJM
Time: May 25, 2020, 1:35 am

A few years ago the Collins Foundation’s tour visited our area during the 4th of July celebrations and their B-25 was flying from a local general aviation field…the landing flight path was right above our house…it was a magnificent sight & sound.

A friend’s father flew B-25 Mitchells. You can make a donation and book a short flight…I think it was pretty hefty, but he figured it was now or never. So he turns up at the appointed time in his dad’s WWII bomber jacket with an 8×10 B&W photo of the crew taken outside his namesake the “Little Timmy”. Now he has another B-25 crew photo with him at the center holding his original photo. Is that cool or what?

Go see The Wings of Freedom Tour if they are near you this summer, the last flying B-24J Liberator and B-25 Mitchell…it’s majorly fun and there are usually private vintage aircraft as well as Navy and/or AF aircraft to admire and explore.

Pity Trooping The Color is cancelled this year, the BP fly by with WWII aircraft is still a powerful moment.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: May 25, 2020, 4:07 pm

@BMJ—Re: B-24. After my second-father retired in 1982 he and my mother took off to see America, in and out at regular intervals. They gave me a checkbook on their bank account, with instructions to pay their bills and buy whatever I thought was important. There were six other sibs, but I’m the only one they gave the checkbook to.

For years I picked up their mail and paid their bills, without spending any of their money on myself—and never would have—until one day a B-24 came to town, in 1997. As a newspaper photographer I had flown previously in a B-25, but it cost an eye-watering $400 for a flight in the B-24 (I think her name was Miss Consolidated). I agonized for two days. What would Pop do? In late afternoon of the second day, after listening to that airplane flying over town for two days, I realized Pop would have said, “Hell Yeah!”

I drove out to the airport, hell bent for leather, but Miss Consolidated was gone, gone. Pop was sad that I missed missed my chance, and told me never, ever let that happen again! But I’ve never had another opportunity.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 25, 2020, 7:42 pm

Bitter-sweet memory Deborah HH. As they say, it’s not the things you did that you really regret – it’s the ones you didn’t.

Mind you, I can think of a few exceptions to that rule!

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: May 25, 2020, 8:20 pm

In 1995 our town had a 50th Anniversary VE/VJ celebration and airshow at our local airport. We had the B-24 “Diamond Lil”, a B-25, a P-51, and a TBM Avenger among others from what from immediately post-WW-II to shortly after this airshow was the Colorado Wing of the Confederate Air Force. They got the name because some Pentagon types just after the war tired of them trying to get WW-II aircraft to restore from the depots and called them “a bunch of damned Rebels” [among other, cruder things]. Since they were based then in Harlingen, Texas, they took it and ran with it adopting the Southern Colonel personas. Shortly after 1995 the PC types had litters of cows, kittens, and I think a couple of carabao; so they changed to “Commemorative Air Force”.

In any case, at the time I had a sideline with a talk show on a radio station in a nearby city, and just voluntarily made it a point to push our airshow/celebration on the air. I arrived at the show, and was spotted and brought over to the Avenger, which I had Marconi-drooled upon. Only Confederate Air Force personnel were allowed to fly in their planes there. With two exceptions. A local TV station was allowed to have a cameraman in the “greenhouse” behind the pilot of the Avenger. And as a totally unsolicited thank you for talking about them on the air, I was allowed to ride in the rear gun turret. We were the first plane to take off, buzzed our town, and then came back and did a short air show over the field.

If anyone gets a chance to ride one of the old warbirds, do it. And remember those who did it under wartime conditions to protect us.

Subotai Bahadur

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