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!

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