Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 6 - Countdown to Baby Chicks

The last few days have been blessedly uneventful. I was afraid that the rain and subsequent wind would knock our power out, and that, in turn, would knock out the incubator! I was worried I would end up with eggs under my shirt, but thankfully that didn't happen!

This is my first time as a manipulator of life and I keenly feel the responsibility. I check the incubator temperature every few hours and have had to make minute adjustments. The heating apparatus is not terribly sophisticated. The temperature is controlled with the loosening of a wing-nut and the turning of a little non-specific lever. I am SWISS! I want precision! The other funny part of this is that the little thermometer that sits on top of the eggs migrates to the back of the incubator because the eggs are in constant motion via the auto egg turner.

The first time we let a hen sit on eggs and then hatch them, we tried marking them with a pencil X which quickly disappeared because of the constant rotation the mother instinctively performs for even heating. If I didn't have the auto turner, I would be opening it up and hand turning it many times a day. Not good.

One of the banner days in the incubator is Day 7. That is the day that the eggs will be candled to determine if there is growth taking place in the shell. There are all kinds of warnings about washing your hands before handling the eggs, that the simple naturally occurring oils on our fingers can be sucked into the shell and damage the embryo. Farmer Jeff is going to bring some latex gloves home from work so we can do it and not risk damage.

Farmer Jeff, after I carefully explained what I was going to do on day 7, went to the garage, took an empty steel cut oatmeal can, cut out a hole, and then painted it black to match the lamp over which it will sit. This is the ideal set up for candling, which as you can tell by the word, used to be done with candles.

Banner News!
We put bands on the feet of the 3 little chicks we have been tending to for 3 months. We didn't want to let them out before we traveled because we wouldn't be around to watch them and then we hesitated due to the rains. We took advantage of the break in the rain today to band them and integrate them in with the rest of the flock. I felt so bad...the first thing they did was flap their wings. They haven't had enough room to stretch out and do that in the cage I kept them in. Sorry, Girls!
(I just went outside to make sure they all made it back into the coop and ended up having to pick up the darkest one and slip her into her now open old cage with her sisters.)

Tomorrow night, Day 7, candling! We did a little test and both of the Ameraucana eggs we checked are growing! WooHoo!!!

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