Saturday, May 24, 2008

Growing Babies In My Pantry

Back in March I found out one of my geese was laying eggs. I was so excited and eagerly checked the nest every few days to see if she had added any more. I counted out how long before there would be enough for her to start sitting on, and then how long it would take before they hatched.

Two months passed and she still hadn't begun sitting on those eggs. *sigh* There went my visions of a dozen little goslings running around the yard (OK, so didn't actually want a dozen of them, but that didn't mean I couldn't fantasize.). Giving up on her motherly instincts, I decided to try rigging up an incubator inside. After all, my duck was laying too, and it might be fun to have ducklings. =) If it didn't work, I wasn't really out anything since the eggs were just going to sit and rot in the nest otherwise.

I threw half a dozen chicken eggs, along with the freshest-looking goose and duck eggs into a homemade incubator. A week passed and I candled the eggs (put a flashlight on the fat end of the shell in a dark room to see if there was a baby growing inside.). Some of them showed promise, so I put them back in the 'bator.

It got too hot, and they all died. I tried getting a water heater thermostat to turn the light on and off and regulate the temperature on a second bunch of eggs, but I couldn't keep it steady enough and it still got way too hot.

I tossed those eggs, then tried putting a wash cloth in the bottom of an electric fry pan and heating it to the recommended 102 degrees. I had read about it working great for someone else. It seemed to work for several days, then the temperature spiked again.

Frustrated and irritated, I broke down and bought an incubator. I got an automatic turner as well, so I wouldn't have to worry about whether I got the eggs rotated often enough when I worked a long day (they have to be turned three to four times a day to keep the baby from sticking to the shell). The goose eggs are too big for the turner, so I pulled a couple of the turning trays out to leave room for the goose eggs on one side. I still have to hand-turn those.

I put 13 chicken eggs in the 'bator, along with a duck egg and got things started last Sunday.

Meanwhile, I started reading again about guinea fowl. Apparently, they are supposed to be noisy, but I can't imagine they will be louder than my obnoxious geese, and they love, love, love to eat bugs and don't scratch garden beds to pieces like chickens. It's all about organic gardening, right? At least, that can always be my excuse. So I bought some guinea eggs on eBay, because as long as I have an incubator, I might as well put it to good use. They arrived yesterday and I rushed home to add them to the other eggs. Since I put the chicken eggs in, I came across several fresh duck and goose eggs and have added them as well, so we're now sporting a no vacancy sign, at least until the chicks are ready to hatch. I'll have to take some time tomorrow afternoon to candle my chicken eggs and see how they are doing. The two rows of eggs on the left are chicken eggs, except the top one on the second row, which is duck. The two rows of brown eggs are all guinea, and the big white eggs are goose eggs. The three green eggs on the top right are ducks eggs as well.

Eggs in the 'bator: 13 chicken, 4 duck, 5 goose and 14 guinea

1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

Wow. That sounds like quite the project! Good luck!