Friday, April 27, 2012

After 7 days of Incubation, we "candle" the eggs.

Today is day 7 of incubation and it is the day to "candle" the eggs.  The objective is to see how many eggs are developing normally and how many eggs are infertile (or are fertile but no longer developing).  Using our bicycle headlamp, which is amazingly bright, and a cardboard box with a hole cut for the egg to sit in, we did the test.  With squeals of delight, we discovered that 8 of our 18 eggs showed a spider web-like veining, and 5 of those 8 actually had wiggly little embryos inside!  The remaining eggs, which we were unsure about, were either very transparent, with the yolk leveling itself at the top of the egg, or they were cloudy and did not have any visible veining. 

Instead of waiting until the recommended 14th day to candle the eggs again, we plan to do it sooner to avoid any smelly eggs or egg explosions inside the incubator.  At that point, we will probably compost any eggs that look like duds.  The incubator is actually made of Styrofoam, and an egg explosion may just ruin it.

Here is a photo of our candling process.  The photo does not really show much.  The eggshells are brown and some were very hard to see through.

Here are some examples of what we actually saw, although these are just copied from the Internet.  You can see the veining, and the little dark area is the embryo.  The YouTube video shows movement like what we saw with the 5 eggs.

Thanks for following us--we will keep you updated on our incubation!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Carl made a plywood scarecrow and Amelia scantily dressed it with a bandana loincloth, work gloves, safety glasses, straw hat and a lacey white tanktop.  Hopefully the neighbors don't call the police :)
Our three ladies each layed an egg.  They usually each lay one per day.  Millie's is the darkest one.

Friday, April 20, 2012

This is the moment when we introduced Ricky to our three hens.  The girls were brave!

So we placed 18 eggs in the incubator at 1:30 pm on April 20.  We did not wash them, just placed them in after marking them.  We are supposed to let them sit in there for a whole day before starting to turn them.

Introducing....drum roll please....
Amelia's first blog!  (Written by Amelia's mom and dad, mostly)

We want two more chickens, so....we borrowed Amelia's friend's Rooster, "Ricky Glisten", from their farm.  We picked him up in a cardboard box, and brought him home.  He was such a gentleman, and the hens really liked him, we think.  However, we did not see any mating going on, so after three days of 5 am cockle-doodle-doo, we took him back to his farm.  Apparently, he immediately mated with his hens!

Wednesday, we were making a carrot cake and discovered that our eggs were fertile.  They had a little donut shaped white dot on the yolk.  We looked at photos online, and confirmed the fertility.

Our hen, Millie, has broody tendencies, but it does not seem like she really wants to sit on the eggs.  We really want to hatch these eggs, and after looking for an incubator to rent or borrow, and having no luck, we bought one from Urban Farm Store for $119 (they were really nice and gave us a discount)

Apparently, you need one with water trays, to keep the air humid.  A circulating fan is also essential, to keep the air temperature consistent throughout. An automatic egg turner would be handy, but we opted to save the $50 and turn them ourselves.  You are supposed to turn them three times a day, and you mark an X on one side of the egg, and an O on the other side.

We plugged it in at 9am, filled the water tray, and turned the thermostat on fully. We reached temperature immediately.  Now, we are micro-adjusting the temperature to stay exactly at 99.5.  The instructions recommend waiting 6 hours prior to placing the eggs inside.