Our Hatching JourneyThis is the story of a homeschooling family's journey to get one step closer to self-sustaining ourselves. Let me start with telling you my name. I am Heather. My husband's name is Matt. We have 5 kids (meaning children, not goats), 5 chickens, 2 cats, 1 dog, and a partridge in a pear tree. Ok, forget the partridge, but we did have 20,000+ bees until they decided to leave us last October for better prospects.
See, although we have a medium size family for the folks we know, it is concidered a large family to the rest of the world. In a perfect world (When we have all the eggs we could possibly eat), we would need about 5-6 dozen per week (one breakfast of scrambled eggs takes 12-16 eggs to make). Now, those of you in the know might already be thinking 5 chickens does NOT equal 5-6 dozen a week. On average we get about 2 dozen a week, a far cry from 5-6 dozen. Instead of buying the absolutely disgusting eggs they sell at the store, we just eat less eggs.
Our need for more eggs sparked a new homeschooling experiment...
Make an incubator and try to hatch eggs, instead of buying chicks. I was so excited, I got right on the phone and called my best friend (with whom I share a brain). I got her so excited, she ran out that afternoon and bought an incubator. I was so disappointed, I thought half the fun and learning was going to be in making the incubators, and learning how they work. So...about 3 days later I went out and bought one too... Ok, I failed to mention that we are also finishing our basement, designing and making a new, bigger coop, and starting our garden for the spring...just no time for building and testing and tweeking a homemade incubator.
We bartered some eggs from a friend, and off we went. The rest is history...
Day 1 began at 8:45PM March 11, 2011. A mix of buff orpingtons, black australorps, and even 3 tophats were set in a perfectly warm (99.5F) incubator. I proceeded to spend the next 3 days completely obsessed with learning all I can about incubating eggs (not to mention the previous 2 weeks ). There are so many different opinions out there, it could make your head spin. After seeing so many neat pictures online of people's eggs and the development happening, I became very impatient. We saw so may great photos of embryos at day 2 and 3, but we weren't seeing the same things in our eggs. I must add that we were not entirely sure if the eggs we had were fertilized.
We decided that if we did not see SOMETHING by hour 72 (yes, we were even counting hours), we were going to take one of the eggs out and sacrifice it for the good of our sanity. Hour 72 came and went. That afternoon, we removed one of the eggs that appeared to doing nothing, cracked it onto a plate, and slowly examined it. It was a viable, growing embryo. We could see the start of veins! We were reassured at that point that we just need to wait. When we turned the eggs that night, we decided to candle one, just to see if it was the same. We were surprised to see that after just a few hours, we could now see the "spider" that we had waited so long to see. Ok, so it was only 3 day, but it seemed like forever.
Day 4 started with a flip at 6:30, and another peek at the newly formed "spider". We were so excited to see what we assumed was the heart beating.
Day 5 was fun. Not only did we get to peek at our eggs and see even more growth, but we also numbered them all and only had to toss 1 egg for infertility. We now have 12 eggs developing beautifully (or so they look). Our plan is to track each ones growth daily on a chart I made. Some people would say that we are going way overboard, and maybe we are. We are using this as a science project. We are testing to see if the dry incubation method produces a 90+% hatch rate, like we hear...Will update