When we lose power on my street, my chicken-keeping friend, who lives two houses down from me, usually blames me, and with good cause. We don’t lose power that often, but when we do, you can bet I’m in the middle of a incubating eggs. I have learned the hard way always to have a back-up plan while incubating. The take-home message today is: expect the unexpected. Always be prepared. Don’t count your chickens….well, you get the idea. Here are a few of the most memorable crises to have arisen in mid-hatch.
Crisis #1 April 2012, Day 20 of incubating 2 Blue Splash Marans. A fallen tree limb on a power line resulted in an 8 hour power outage. With no generator at that time and no backup plan, I backed my car out of the driveway, put the bator on the seat and turned the heater on high. I was able to stabilize the temperature in the car and inside the bator (had thermometers in BOTH) to between 94-100 degrees. I was able to control humidity with a wet sponge inside the bator and leaving the top of the bator ajar. Humidity was kept around 60% inside the bator.
The night wore on and the power still out at 10:30 pm; I couldn’t leave the car running outside the garage any longer, it had been 5 hours already. One of the eggs had pipped and would need a warm brooder soon. So…I took a cooler and laid it on its side in front of our propane, gas log fireplace. I lined it with some reflective insulation (that I happened to have on-hand). By keeping a wet towel inside the cooler and misting the area around the bator intermittently, I was able to maintain 60% humidity. My husband thought I was completely insane and went to bed. The power returned two hours later. When I plugged the incubator back in, it returned to normal operating temperature within two minutes.
Crisis #2 February 2012. Driver on his way to a job interview crashes his car into the utility pole in front of our house, knocking out power for hours. (The driver was fine, although mighty late to his interview.) The remedy was to bring the bator to my neighbor’s
house as they had a generator.
Crisis #3 October 29, 2011: A freak pre-Halloween snowstorm knocks out power to most of the state of Connecticut, leaving us without power for 8 DAYS. Fortunately, we had purchased a generator by then. So, we should be all set, crisis-wise, right? Not so fast.
That brings us to our Hatch-along and why should this hatch be trouble-free? This time, it was not a power outage that caused a few tense moments, it was my own carelessness. Oh, goody!
Crisis #4 September 22, 2012: Day 14, 7 days into the hatch, I noticed some condensation inside the incubator where there should be none. Upon inspection, I noticed that I had mounted the fan crooked after its last cleaning. The misaligned fan prevented air from circulating properly, hence the condensation. In my rushed attempt to reassemble the housing unit, I managed to break two of the fan blades, rendering the fan essentially useless.
Fortunately, I had two back-up plans available to me. #1: I could borrow a bator from one of my peeps nearby, #2: I had three broodies in the coop sitting on eggs already. I took Mabel’s eggs from her and gave them to Olive, and Mabel is now egg-sitting my Buff Orpington eggs. The new fan is on its way from Brinsea, Express Mail, thank you Pascale!
Today is day 11 of incubation, there are 10 to go. Half way there! I did take Mabel off the eggs in order to candle them with my OvaScope. I returned them to her nest before she even finished her dinner. With the exception of egg #5, I’m certain all of the Buff Orpington eggs are developing on track! The arrows point to the embryo.
If we were to open the eggs, this is what the embryo would look like at this stage of development.
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