Monday, July 23, 2012

hatch 'em or crack 'em?

Usually, I eat eggs for breakfast.  Fried up, yolks still soft.  Salt and butter with each bite.  yum.  Or, crack 'em raw, separate and discard the white so just the bright, gold yolk slides into a jar of cold kefir.  Add a little honey or some maple syrup, shake, and mmmmmmmmm, so good.  
      About a month ago I decided to try something I've been itching to do for a bit now.  Hatch 'em, instead of eat 'em.  Would a little baby chicken come out of my breakfast food?  I had to know.
One whole day spent on you-tube taught me enough to build an 'egg-hatcher'.  Incubator just doesn't sound complete.  In order to be optimistic, I spoke to friends and family of the 'egg-hatcher' and its contents.    Breakfast food was kept around 98 to 100 degrees with 30 to 50 % humidity, for 19 days.  My little hopefuls were turned every 8 hours and rotated around the circle.
     Then, one Tuesday afternoon, one of the eggs was an egg shell and there was a wet, scrawny, creepy looking little creature flailing around the egg-hatcher.  A few hours later, there was another one.  I stayed up late into the night to watch the other 4 eggs.  Sleeping on a mattress on the floor, my alarm going off every hour, I watched one of the baby chicks peck its way out.  The 4th chick was already out when I woke up from the last hour nap.
        Amazing.  Just blows my mind.  4 little beings walking around a shoe box now, peeping.  Peeping, peeping, peeping.  Oh its just the sweetest noise.  How did this happen?  Something I usually eat turned into beings, live beings.  Oh the wonder of it!  Life happening right before my eyes.
        That was about 3 weeks ago.  The other 2 eggs never hatched.  4 out of 6 on the first try, I was so very pleased with the whole experiment.  They lived in a card board box for another 19 days.  We went out for 'walks' every day.  They'd get shoved back into that shoe box, lid on, and find themselves at the base of a tree next to the pond.  I watched in wonder as they started scratching and pecking, opening their wings, just walking around like a bunch of chickens.  Who taught them how to do that?  It certainly wasn't me.  I was just sitting there staring in disbelief.  For awhile it seemed each day they displayed a new behavior I see every day from our adult chickens.  (Who knew there were so many different chicken behaviors?)
       All the while I continued to collect eggs from the chicken coop every day and eat them for breakfast.  Really?  These yummy treats could turn into cute, fluffy, peeping creatures.  Or, I could eat them right now, maybe with a little cheese?  yum.  So very strange.
       Well, there's 3 left.  One got snatched by a farm kitty while we were out on a 'walk'.  That was heart breaking.  Ripped a hole in my chest to watch that little nugget being carried away in a cat's mouth.  Oh what a failure I was as a parent...  the kitty has kittens though and she was trying to feed her babies.  I understand.
    Now they live in the 2nd part of the duplex that is our chicken coop.  I hang out with them every day, sometimes twice.  They are a true joy in my life.  Just hours of entertainment really.  Like watching a fish tank.  Constant motion and soothing noises.  The picture above was taken today.  Its the 2nd batch that escaped breakfast.  Arrival date is first day or two of August.   I am very excited to watch the miracle all over again.


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