categories: Cocktail Hour


12 days

Incubation continues.  The other day, Elysia and I cut a hole in a piece of cardboard, placed it over a bright lamp, and began inspecting our incubating eggs.  According to our various on-line instructors (has the Internet replaced extended family?  Local knowledge? (Every generation has its scourge, and they all seem to end up toothless (Comic books when I was a kid, and of course Mad Magazine (And TV)))) you start doing this at eight days, and then as you wish, watching the chicks develop, or trouble.  Plenty of comparison photographs to be found, but none exactly like what we saw.

Elysia has a lot more confidence than I, declared all but two eggs healthy.  These, I chucked across the road into the trees, shades of Halloween, 1965 (which brings us back to Mad Magazine).

You place the egg on the egg-size hole in the cardboard, thus concentrating the light through its shell.  And what you see at eight days isn’t much, just a kind of moving mass as you turn the egg, something more than yolk, it looks like.  At ten days, we definitely starting seeing air sacs, too, and worried over they were too big (not a good sign) or too small (ditto).  Elysia declared them just right.

Day twelve and we started seeing veins in the mix, though some eggs had spots we didn’t like: possibility of bacterial infection.  Eylsia put a question mark on each of these, though I wanted to toss them, having heard (this from Martha White, so we do still talk to actual people (okay, actually she put it as a comment on our egg Facebook post, but that counts as non-Internet as she’s a friend and not just a Friend)) that bad eggs can explode and taint the whole shebang.

Elysia said, “Dad, these eggs are okay.”

But on further inspection we did reject a few.  One with nothing going on.  One with really bad spots.  One cracked.  Elysia replaced these with eggs fresh from under Olivia, one of hens, and used a different color marker for the X’s and O’s we use to keep our turning duties organized.  Early, we printed out a log sheet from the Internet and Elysia has dutifully kept it up: temperature, humidity, checkmarks for turning four times a day, and comments.  Her comments take this form:  So excited!!!  Almost there!!!  Daddy didn’t turn the eggs last night :(…

As of today, batch one has only three days to go, give or take (!!!:)), so time to stop turning and candling.  Batch two is due in ten days.  My new worry is that they will all hatch.  Because, honestly, we have plenty of chickens.  Then again, Drew is due back from Europe in a few weeks and may find a basket on his doorstep.

More soon…

  1. Martha White writes:

    Wait, I want a basket, too! If you’ve got extras, that is… Next tip: don’t despair too early if they don’t hatch on schedule. I once had 5 duck eggs hatch and 2 seem to be duds — until I threw one on the compost pile and discovered (real tears, here…I felt horrible) that I had been premature. Evidently the mother duck had snuck an egg in late and it simply needed more time.

    • Bill writes:

      Oh, the compost! We have no action as of this Fourth of July evening, but Elysia claims she can feel something moving as she holds one of the eggs. We promise not to despair! (Once I threw a dead English Ivy plant on the compost and the next year discovered it growing in the woods right behind the pile. So dug it up and now these 15 years later it’s part of the south fence…) A basket of eggs is always available, Martha. And maybe some chicks, too.