Thursday, November 11, 2010
The Eggs are Incubating.
I've surprised myself by being quite anxious about these little chicken embryos and the responsibility of it all. And I've been having dreams. The other night I woke up in a sweat having dreamed that one of the eggs had exploded and there were bits of skeleton all over the incubator and the eggs had no shells on them just black cacky stuff and teeny skeletons! I'm manically checking the temperature gauge on the incubator and ticking the monkeys off if they run around nearby. No balls in the house (never a good idea anyway), no rough stuff in the lounge room, no opening of the drawers of the cabinet the incubator is on and of course no touching the incubator! Oh and no shouting - only whispering nice, words of encouragement to the eggs! The monkeys of course are completely disinterested in the whole thing! Who am I doing this for again? Hopefully, they'll at least feign an interest if and when they hatch.
The eggs were posted out by Shani at Shrimani Farm. Here I am with shaky hands unpacking them and putting them in an egg carton pointy end down to settle for 12 hours. I had previously set up the incubator to make sure the temperature was right and remained stable at 37.7º. With a pencil I've marked a 'X' on one side and '0' on the other so I know what I'm up to with my turning. I'm keeping a record so I don't get confused. I need to turn the eggs at least twice a day - and I'm managing three turns approx 8 hours apart.
But on day 3, I started to pay attention to the humidity level and got myself in a flap because it appeared to be way too high. I had foolishly put a blanket around the bottom of the incubator and didn't realise I was blocking some air holes. I had also filled two of the water chambers and I think I should have only filled one. Now I know it's my own stupid fault but the instructions with this incubator were inadequate - nothing about how much water and they recommended sitting incubator on a blanket (on not around!) Anyway, excuses, excuses. I felt a bit sick in the tummy and posted my mistake on the Backyard Poultry Forum and the helpful chicken fanciers (snicker) who responded thought it'd be OK. This is an invaluable guide on all things chickens.
Anyway, for a couple of days I was faffing about and cranky with everyone. Not only couldn't I manage to get the humidity levels right, but the temperature was sitting on 36ºC when it should be 37.7º. All the advice is to leave the gauge alone. And then it occurred to me to check the thermometer with the wizzy temperature gauge Monkey Man has at the front door. Of course the hydrometer was wrong all this time! The humidity in the incubator was sitting where it should be between 50-60% and this gadget gave me a more accurate measurement of the temperature. One piece of advice I have learned for next time (HA!) is that you should run the incubator for a few days with some unfertilised eggs from the fridge. I did do a test run with the incubator but not with anything in it so there's a lesson.
So now I've managed to stabilise things I think. It's day 7 and there's 14 more days to turn and fret. It's all a bit tricky this incubating business and I'm not expecting a huge success, but I'd be rapt if we ended up with a couple of healthy chooks at the end of it all. And I have a back up plan if by some huge luck we end up with too many. Roosters go to our neighbour with relatives on a farm and extra chickens go to a friend's family who are also wanting some silkies. Wish us luck and check back for updates.