As you know from my other blog posts, I've been super busy here, mostly with hatching chicks, setting more eggs, selling chicks, taking care of the ones I kept & for those who ordered pullets. Plus, repairing fences, as the Swedish Flower Hens have been escaping & trying to dig up their future "grass paddocks" . I also made another hatcher, as I set too many eggs for them to all fit in the 1st hatcher. But, when I tested it out last night, I discovered the digital thermostat didn't work properly due to a missing screw that was to hold in the wire for the temperature senser. So, we went downtown & asked an employee at Dubbens Hardware if they had a screw that would fit. After trying several, he said, "I'm sorry, it's not going to work." He thought for a minute, then said, "Let my just try one more thing." He got out a pair of needle-nosed plyers, help up the little "jaws", screwed in the screw & it worked! Praise the Lord! I thought I'd have to buy another cheapy Styrofoam incubator from TSC that's notoriously difficult to regulate the temerature on. But, after candling the eggs this morning, a little thought popped into my mind about a hot water heater thermostat. Other people have used them to make incubators, and although they are persnickity to regulate also, they're much less expensive than a $40 Styrofoam incubator. So while at Dubbens, I picked up one, just in case it the digital one didn't work. But, so far, it's holding pretty steady, though it does continue to climb in temp after it shuts off the lights. But, it's still within the acceptable range, so hopefully it continues to "hold steady" and not display any errors. I have to transfer the eggs from the incubator to the two Cooler Bater "Hatchers"; this batch of eggs is due Thrusday and Friday, just in time for Easter, which will be the 3rd hatch of 2015!
I NEED the incubator empty (nearly) by tomorrow (Wed), as I'm taking it to the place where I went to school, so the kids can enjoy & learn more about the process of incubation. This will be the 5th Hatch of 2015, which will be due around 4/21-22. In years past, I've sometimes only had 5 hatches total in one year's time!
But before I tell you anymore about the 5th hatch, I never mentioned to you about the 4th hatch, did I? Well, it all started with an experiment in the 1st Cooler Bator. I had too many eggs in the Genesis 1588, and most of them were developing when I candled them around the 21st. Since the Cooler Bator was cleaned & emptied, I transferred the extra eggs into egg cartons with the bottoms cut of them. But, there was less than 18 eggs in there, so to "make it worth it" - I added a few new eggs on 3/21 evening, so the official start date was 2/22. Since it doesn't have an auto-turner in there, I've been turning the whole cooler 3 - 5 times a day, by placing a box underneath one end. This wouldn't be possible for some people to do, but since it's a dry incubation, I don't have to worry about any water spilling. Time will tell if it's working, but according to the candling, it's been working just fine.
Then, to top it all off, faithful broody hen Lydia (Partridge Chantecler) decided she was ready to raise some chicks. So, I put a few extra eggs under her on 2/22 also. Her eggs are also an experiment, as she's incubating them in a milk crate suspended in air, with only on old feed bag & hay underneath the eggs. If nothing else, I'm sure she'll adopt any of the incubator chicks that hatch.
A few days later, in Dad's coop, I noticed one of the young pullets who just recently started laying eggs was "fluffed up" and walking around making the "ticking" sound commonly made by broody hens. Then next day, she was in the nest, growling at me, and when another hen "kicked her out", she waited outside the nest, all fluffed up & her tail feathers fanned out. But, she would return to roost with the hens at night. After a few days of this, she decided to go full-blown broody! Yah! She'll be a first-time mom, but she chose an ideal location, as I can block off a section of Dad's coop where she can keep the (hopeful) chicks safe until they're at least a week old. She does peck me whenever I remove the eggs, as I have yet to give her eggs, as I'm waiting to coordinate her set time with the incubator eggs. Hey, I can at least try to see if she'll adopt any extras also. She was raised by a broody last summer, perhaps one of the later hatches, but I'd have to check her wingband # & my records to be sure. I can only guess who her parents were, as there were several roosters in with the flock last year when she was hatched. But judging from her white "earlobe", I'd guess her dad would be "Joseph", but her mom is a mystery. She's the pullet below that is a great poser for pictures. I love her tail feathers all fanned out, and when she's broody, it's even more so!
Gotta stop writing & clean up my room, as it looks like a "workshop" with a blue tarp on the carpet, two electric screwdrivers, container of zip ties, wire strippers, pliers, cut-up egg cartons, and Styrofoam "dots" all over from drilling and cutting the latest Coolor Bator.
A friend asked me if I'd started any plants or seeds yet. The answer is NO! Needless to say the chickens have taken priority over starting seeds. I've had everything nearly ready & set up to start them since February, but not enough time in the day!! Or, is it all the time I've spent doing other projects?