Saturday, February 26, 2011

Monday's the Day. I Hope.

Look there, to the right of my (very messy) desk. Yes, that IS an incubator. A "Hova-bator," to be exact. My friend's dad, who got me started in chickens to begin with, loaned it to me last year, to see if I might want to try hatching some eggs. Last year, I was kind of afraid to, since I really knew nothing at all about incubating eggs, and there were no directions with it. Well, directions for that exact model of incubator were eventually found on line, and this year, on total impulse, I decided on my birthday weekend three weeks ago that I wanted to give it a try.
I was scrolling through Craig's List that Friday night, found some lady not too far away from me who had eggs for sale, made contact, and on that Sunday, my birthday, I drove 30 minutes away to make an egg purchase in the McDonald's parking lot. I felt a little bit "bad," - you know, handing a stranger in a jacked up, dirty black Jeep cash while she pulled four egg cartons out of the back hatch to slide clandestinely into my back seat. Yeah, I know - I doubt the FBI was watching, either, but hey, you never know. I DID give her 40 bucks in unmarked bills, two of them.
So, it is now the end of the three week incubation period. I'm in the three-day countown, the three day "before the hatch" time. I had to add water to bring up the humidity in the incubator today, rolled them for the last time, and am carefully watching and adjusting the temperature. But, I am TERRIFIED. I am so positively afraid that none of them will hatch, due to my inability to keep things perfect for three weeks. Actually, that's not true. I'm not afraid that they won't hatch. I'm afraid that they WILL hatch, a few, and that they will be deformed, or not be able to get all the way out of the shell and die, or be stuck to the shell because the humidity was wrong, or the temperature fluctuations will have really messed them up.  I SO hope that's not the case. 
Not gonna lie, I will be hugely disappointed if none of them hatch, to be sure. But I hope that if they DO hatch, that they will be well. My only other hatching/incubator experience was when I was in 6th grade. It didn't end well. Someone in my class brought in a goose or duck egg, or something, from their farm. My dad , at my request, quickly constructed a foam ice chest incubator, heated with a light bulb (how did he know how to do that, since that was way before the advent of the internet? I'm pretty sure we didn't just happen to have a book laying around our house entitled  How to Make an Incubator. I mean, how did he know how to get it to the right heat? What wattage bulb That it needed humidity?  Maybe there was something in our old encyclopedia? Hmmm. I had never really contemplated that big question til now. ) ANYWAY, it hatched. I was SO excited. It was wet and goopy and weak at first,  cute, and really one of my first real experiences with a "miracle."  One of the other 6th grade teachers told me it needed water, now that it had hatched.  My dad had put wire on the bottom of the foam chest for the egg to sit on, and it had had water under it while the egg was incubating, and it had dried up, so I thought he meant to put more water there. I did. The duckling or gosling, whatever it was, was thirsty, tried to get a drink over the side of the wire, and got it's little head caught between the sharp wire side and the side of the foam chest, and drowned. I was devastated. I had witnessed the miracle of birth, and then killed it, the same day, in just a few short hours. We had a long-term substitute at that time, and I know it didn't help that I didn't like her anyway, but that day, she seemed particularly heartless. I don't know what she said, or didn't say, but I know she wasn't the least bit sympathetic. Pretty much all I remember was running to the girls bathroom down the hall and around the corner, and sobbing my little 6th grade heart out over the death of the innocent little goose baby. Soooooo, like I said, my only other experience with an incubator was definitely memorable, but not happy.
I'm hoping Monday brings a happy incubation experience.
If nothing happens at all, Tractor Supply gets in their fuzzy poultry babies on Monday as well.
Fingers crossed!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Break is a Wonderful Thing

     Forgive the absence. Life has been CRAZY busy with the EMT course. That, for me, in the middle of the winter, is a good thing. I do well with being so busy that January and February are now almost done. The winter blues catch up to me at some point, always, but this year they lasted, oh about three days. That's all I had time for.
     But this week, I have the week off, and it's perfect timing. I love February break so much better than Christmas break, because there's no Christmas to prepare for, no Christmas to clean up after. There's NOTHING going on, which I love, so it's a real break. My eldest has the same week off from college, too, so he's home. It's going to be a good week off.  I still have EMT classes two nights this week, and I think Bramble and I are going to restart training lessons again on Wednesday night, but other than that, my days are my own.  So far, I've been particularly thankful for:
  • being able to celebrate my dad's 90th birthday with him at the nursing home, with my sister, both brothers, my brother's girlfriend from New Hampshire, and three of my four kids. We brought dinner to him, and he ate an entire steak, a whole baked potato, fresh green beans, and two HUGE pieces of cake. I could not believe how much he ate. He seemed happy I think.
  • having found a phenominally good book to read throughout break. I have many lined up to read, but this one, The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, is one of those "can't put it down, keep sneaking back to read just one or two more pages" kind. I've never read anything by him before, and it's totally not in my usual repetoir, but I LOVE it.
  • ten inches of snow last night that was predicted, and that we DID get, that would have sent me to bed hoping and praying for a snow day today had it not been vacation, but that would not have resulted in a day off, so all the more reason to be thankful!
  • Irish chicken stew for dinner last night
  • sitting around in my cozy little living room this afternoon, watching a really stupid and funny movie with my all of my kids, and NO ONE is fighting
  • having a friend of my son's come, unasked, and plow out the driveway (not the first time he's done it this winter, but the first time I managed to get out there and give him some money for his kindness)
  • having time to crochet some on the afghans I started last winter (while watching movies with my kids this afternoon). That, to me, represents the ULTIMATE in "free time." I NEVER have free time enough to just sit and watch movies and crochet. Never. Well, last winter when I was sitting in the hospital rooms with my dad for many days, THEN I did. And I guess I should be grateful I haven't had THAT kind of time since then, but I DO love to crochet. It's just as the bottom of the list of free time activities (especially when I have a good book to read...cough cough, Pillars of the Earth,cough cough)
  • seed catalogs, CSA's, and summer gardening dreams...
  • time to blog again

It is winter, but it is nearing the end. Mornings are lighter earlier, dusk comes later now, I'm busy, healthy, happy. My chickens are laying up a storm, each of the 8 girls laying nearly every day (one of my "girls" just decided s/he is a rooster, after having owned her/him since last May.) And I don't have to face lesson plans, or teaching five periods in a row, for another 6 days. AWESOME. Life is ok right now. No, to be honest, life is good. Really good, despite the fact that it is still winter and that we have ten inches of new snow (grr, just a little!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Three Amigos

Willow, Anvik, Moose

This is just a random picture from a few years back, when I still had Moose, and before Willow was getting old, and before Annie put on the weight she has now. I had checks with this picture on them for awhile, and it's just a picture that makes me smile. I don't know how anyone lives without dogs in their life.