I think of our incubator as a ‘miracle tube’ and right now, as I write, it is performing another little miracle. You may remember that when we came back from Morocco I filled it with 12 bantam eggs, probably because it was raining and I needed something optimistic to do. Now their time has come and I’m finding it hard to tear myself away. Honestly, it’s far better than watching TV.
The incubator is a yellow plastic tube, big enough for 12 bantam eggs, 8 hen or guinea fowl eggs and about 6 big goose or peacock eggs, and it has hatched all of these in the past (you may remember my mixed emotions when Duffy came into our lives). When you feel like adding more players to the crowd scene in the hen run, you warm it up to the correct temperature, top up the water reservoirs, add the eggs, turn it three times a day and wait for results. Two days before D day you stop turning it, so that the chicks aren’t dizzy when they come out.
First sign of imminent hatching is that an egg says PEEP! which is always exciting. It continues to peep regularly as the chick inside gets down to business. First a little hole appears in the side of the egg, through which you can see a tiny beak chipping away busily. Then if the chick is strong, it saws around its shell as efficiently and neatly as if it had a tiny chain-saw tucked away inside, and flops out. At first it is like a soggy cottonwool ball, which the astonished expression of most new-borns. A few hours later, Sog Ball will have dried out into Perfect Easter Chick, pottering around on its tiny toes, and will be ready to make the move into the little run I keep for new chicks which has an infra-red lamp and special food and water bowls.
Of the 12 eggs I put in 19 days ago, 10 are fertile (nice one Pavlova), and it looks as if 6 will hatch out, which is fine by me. To date we have two Perfect Easter Chicks ambling about under their infra-red light, two Sog Balls collapsed limply against the other eggs, and two eggs saying PEEP! I’ll keep you posted.
By the way, Lupin, Foxy and their four lambs are out in the meadow and lovin’ it. Duffy has grown more blue feathers and attacked the oil delivery man (his oil tank, his rules), and the baby robins are now a nest full of enormous golden beaks. Have a great Bank Holiday Weekend, I’ve taken a photo of Foxy and her little lambs which I’ll ask Mikey to put on the blog. They are very sweet and incredibly friendly.