I was mostly an unconscious parent recently.
In fact, Farmer and I had conversations about due dates, counting and coming to different conclusions, twice. Both times I was wrong by three whole days. Or they were three days early (which isn’t likely).
As I write this, there’s a fury of bird racket coming from a spare room, and I’ve got no chick starter in the house. Talk about being caught with your pants down. As night fell I was hauling in a bale of wood shavings and hunting up a heat lamp and some homemade chick starter recipes. But that’s not the worst part.
Although I’d set two incubators with eggs at the proper temperature, it took me 10 days to discover I hadn’t even plugged in the automatic egg turners. When I realized my mistake, writing a column about deformed embryos became a definite possibility.
Mother hens don’t make that mistake. Their feet turn the eggs daily, exercising embryos so they don’t become attached to one side of the egg.
I was about to remove the egg turners when I found one dry chick already walking around in there, and several holes in the other eggs. Although one ought never to count the chickens before they hatch, the noise rising in regular intervals proclaims a much better hatch than last year.
I only candled these eggs and filled water reservoirs twice. Otherwise, this batch was forgotten while I kept busy with bedding plants. The calendar said “take the egg turners out” and “hatch day.”
So much for my records, but how often does that first day of spring announcement bring spring-like weather?
Outside the wind blows ugly with the wind chill just above zero. We recently took Princess to see the crocuses and there were promises of more spring rain.
Perhaps my unconsciousness was their best bet. When that first egg hatches, the desire to open the incubator is just too strong. I want to embrace that one lonely chick, and instead he thrashes about alone. But for temperature and humidity, a closed incubator is just what he needs. Hands off, Mother Hen!
If he had a mother, she’d just sit on him anyway. Leaving well enough alone seems to be this week’s prime directive in living from the farm.