Monday, April 6, 2009

Going Broody


The kidlets and I had high hopes for our incubating project. Maybe a bit too high.
We built an incubator from scratch. We excitedly went to the store to purchase everything we needed:
A large styrofoam cooler
A small fan
Light bulb socket
Extension cord
Electrical tape
Glass from a picture frame

The process was pretty simple and fun to do.
First, we cut a hole a bit smaller than the picture frame glass then attached the glass for a window.
Next, we had to cut several holes in the lid and on the sides of the cooler for ventilation.
After that we added a fan in the corner, a thermometer on the back wall, and a small bowl of water for humidity. Last, we had to cut a hole in the lid large enough for the socket to fit through for the light bulb. We used a 25 watt bulb to regulate the heat.

Pretty easy right?


Ugh...turns out I am a horrible mother hen. Really, I am. I thought everything was perfect.
We added 12 Maran Chicken eggs and 3 Mallard Duck eggs.
I checked the heat every other hour to make sure the temperature was regulated. I gingerly turned my eggs six times a day. I added water twice a day. I candled them to check on their progress. (probably way too much) We saw veins. We saw embryos. We counted down the days. Then something started to stink. We had a bad egg. It was hard to narrow down which one it was. It was left in the incubator a few days until we could single it out. Another time I went to check on the eggs in the middle of the night. I have to unplug the light in order to see the temperature (because both the bulb and temperature gauge are red) I forgot to plug the bator back in. It sat for several hours and was brought down to room temperature by the time I woke up and realized what I had done. Soon after that, I realized my little chicken babies stopped growing. Day by day I cracked open the non-viable eggs with growing despair. They were all in various stages of the growth cycle. I killed each and every one.

Poor little babies.

I don't know if it was the bad egg, messing with them too much or the temperature mishap. We are going to try again. I am going to do my best to be a better mother hen. Geez, if a chicken can sit on an egg, move them around and leave them alone to go eat and still hatch a bunch of chicks, I can too.

I won't hatch!
Oh! I am a chickie who lives in an egg,
But I will not hatch, I will not hatch.
The hens they all cackle, the roosters all beg,
But I will not hatch, I will not hatch.
For I hear all the talk of pollution and war
As the people all shout and the airplanes roar,
So I'm staying in here where it's safe and it's warm
And I WILL NOT HATCH! ---Shel Silverstein

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