Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day Eighteen

I feel nervous.  Today is day 17 of my first incubator incubation.   Each of these 17 days, i have faithfully turned each egg several times per day.  I have candled my eggs on days 10, 14, and 17.  I have drawn on my eggs, made notes on my eggs about my eggs.  I have fussed with the temperature and humidity but not stressed out too much about my eggs.  Every day for 17 days.  I actually schedule my sleep around these eggs.

Tomorrow is day 18.  

Lock down.

On day eighteen, i will carefully position all my eggs for hatching, i will add water to raise the humidity, and i will put the lid on my incubator.  And then i won't open it for possibly five days.  I won't get to touch them or turn them or write on them because they will be busy.  Forty-four little lives inside those eggs will be busily trying to get out.

I really hope they all do it fast so i can hold them.

See, because even if ten of them are hatched, i have to leave them inside to wait for the other 34 to give it a shot.  Opening the lid to rescue the ten could cause the humidity to drop and sabotage the efforts of the 34!

Oh dear!

On the more technical and educational side, this has been an experience for me because i have learned SO much.  When we got the incubator, and right before we put eggs in it, i did some reading - about temperatures and humidity levels and whatnot.  I was basically trying to get a general picture and not feel like i was flying blind.  I know that everything is a learning experience, and supposedly "you shouldn't expect your first hatch to be that great," but ....well, i'm going for 100% hatch.  Why go for less?

Anyway, over the past couple of weeks, i have read and talked and asked questions, but today i read 16 pages of this incubation humidity thread on BYC.  

It's a lot of reading, but really helpful for my understanding.  One of the things i learned is that one of the reasons for so much conflicting advice in the incubation world might be attributed to elevation differences.  It seems that elevation may play an important role in what humidity levels work for you.

I also read on this thread or someplace else, that your egg should lose about 12% of its weight between day one and lock down.  So since i did weigh my eggs before i set them, i decided to weigh them today.  My average weight difference was about 10.8%.  That's not exact, but it definitely makes me feel more comfortable about my hatch this weekend.  I think i'm on the right track.  Whew!

Seventeen days of doing it all wrong would really stink!

In other news, my battleax, Mathilde, is broody again.  So, this evening, i carefully chose 14 eggs for Mathilde to set and hatch.  Oddly, when i gave her these eggs earlier, she just sat there.  Upon the sight of an egg, a broody hen will normally be very quick about tucking it underneath herself in just the right spot.  But for some reason, she froze.  Just like this.

So i left her alone for a few minutes to get comfortable with her new family, but when i came back, she was still sitting there.  In this trance.  I decided to help her out and started tucking the eggs underneath her body.  About 4 eggs into that is when i figured out that this must be Mathilde.  That girl can bite very hard.  In a minute i'll go back outside and check on her (hopefully i'll beat the threatening rain storm).  And hopefully i don't have to help her anymore - i'm not really in the mood for the pain right now.  Ha!


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