I have been reading the auto-biopic, "Egg Farming in California - A Poultry Book," by Charles Weeks. Written in 1922, this book details all the mistakes, and success, Mr Weeks made for himself while pioneerig what we would now call the Permaculture or Confined Range method of chicken rearing. His observations while often prosaic, are certainly of interest to we chicken raisers of today. Following is an excerpt on his initial attempts to incubate his own production flock. " So we built a monstrous incubator cellar, large enough for 3000 eggs, and we filled it with eggs from our own young, first year brown Leghorn pullets. What a tragic mistake THAT was! Any fair breeder could have told us that this was folly, but it seemed that fate should have us go through this experience on purpose - so that the lesson could be well learned. On the day that we brought out that first hatch, people came from far and near to see the mammoth incubator. We carried the chicks out to the long brooder house by the hundred, bringing off about a 50 per cent hatch. This was a big drop from our first year's experience, and we were again puzzled. (The first year, Mr. Weeks had been provided select hatching eggs from a neighbors flock of skillfully managed breeding birds. His hatch rate that first year was 82% - David) It was a pretty sight to look down the long rows of pens in the brooder house and see the little brown chicks scratching for their feed. But, oh, how our hopes went down when they began to die one by one. They were puny and weak and no power on earth could raise them. The problem? Our parent stock was immature, poorly selected and not correctly mated. (Here Mr. Weeks has learned the hard way what has been long known: Breeding for vigor using properly selected, matured and reared parent stock is the key to poultry vitality. - David) We made a fizzle - and hardly a respectable fizzle - trying to raise these chicks. It was enough to discourage the bravest. The puny lot of stock was disgustingly thin-breasted, thin-beaked and with hardly enough vitality to hobble about. If we had only known why we failed, it would have made us feel better. We blamed the incubator and the brooder system - technology was the fault, of course. Thousands have done the same thing, and it has caused more kinds of incubator and brooder systems to be put on the market than almost any other thing. Only later could we see that the incubators and brooder were all right, but the parent stock could not have been more carelessly mated." This is a fascinating book and I recommend it to any one who is interested in maximizing your poultry efforts.