Tag Archives: incubator

Men in Sheds, eating scones

Bob brought some of his store of plum jam and Julia provided the scones. Really we should have made scones but we haven’t been able to get into the kitchen much this week (due to the preparations for the run) so it was off to the shop.

Everyone seemed to enjoy them, anyway and we will be making more jam in a fortnight when he is going to bring us some plums.

Next Tuesday we are going to visit a permaculture project. It’s not that Men in Sheds are particularly interested in permaculture, but the Farmer is interested in using them as free labour to build a permaculture project in the allotments. Presumably that means another year when we can’t plan anything for the allotment.

With any luck it will be something like the one we planned two years ago but weren’t allowed to do.

Planning is not a strong point of this project…

Can you add your own version of a heart-rending sigh here please.

Anyway, I enjoyed the scones and some chicks have hatched so it’s been a good day. In a moment I’m hoping to take Julia away for lunch and have an afternoon off.

 

A mystery solved!

Gemma and I were looking at pictures of the peacock this morning when a lady called and asked who was in charge. I pointed to Gemma because I try not to admit to things like that. It seems that a local painting group would like to pop in tomorrow to paint the Ecocentre and surrounding area.

She was surprised to see the pictures. It seems the bird roosts in one of her trees and belongs to her neighbour, who bought it at auction some months ago. They wondered what it did with itself during the day so we were able to solve all our mysteries in one go.

They were happy to learn that the peacock walks with the guinea fowl as they think it may be lonely from the way it keeps approaching other birds. At last, with the guineas, it seems to have met some suitable companions. I use the word in terms of eating and browsing habits. In moral terms I feel that guinea fowl, with their disregard for private property and road safety, are probably very unsuitable. In literary terms it’s a bit like Oliver Twist falling in with Fagin’s gang of street urchins.

 

As we spoke, a Painted Lady fluttered round the buddleia and the gentle whirring of the incubator’s humidifier could be heard working in the background.

As yet there is no sign of hatching. Only five hours to go, and if there is no sign of hatching by then my name will be mud.

 

 

The Incubator Diaries (Part 2)

As you may have seen in the earlier post today, we have had seven chicks hatched by a broody hen without the use of artificial heating or humidity, and with definitely no input from electronics or from me. Nature is indeed a wondrous thing.

However, back at the incubator, where science meets eggs, it was time to weigh the eggs.

The theory is that an egg should lose 13% of its weight during incubation due to evaporation. According to the manual that comes with the incubator this occurs in a straight line, though I’m dubious about that. Nature, as they say, abhors a vacuum. In my experience it doesn’t care for straight lines either. We will see.

According to the weighing I did today the eggs have lost around 3% of their weight. The Polish eggs have lost 3.3%, the green eggs have lost 2.9% and the two brown eggs I shoved in to fill the space have lost 3.8%. They are larger than the rest and come from older birds so it may be that the shells are more porous. Taking the totals for the three lots of eggs it comes out at 3.33%.

According to my calculation 13% overall loss works out as 0.6% per day. The eggs have now been in the incubator for 5 days so 5 x 0.6% is 3%.

Looks like we’re about right.

Bearing in mind that I’m weighing small numbers of eggs on a kitchen scale I’m happy with this level of accuracy.

Looks like things may be going right!

Two Birthdays and a Pizza

When you look at my titles you can see why Richard Curtis is considerably more successful than me, can’t you?

We had a school come out for an enhancement day  so just a short post.- working with livestock, making pizza and eating a foraged salad.  I’m hoping they felt suitably enhanced by the end, though I’m a little  concerned that a couple of them looked slightly shell-shocked by the end.

At lunchtime we had a party for Emma, then after filling the incubator, we went across to visit Margaret, the Farmer’s mother. She was 80 today. We had tea and cake. Then it was time to clean up, wash, change and go to the other party – the one with the canapes and cheese board. We finally left there as dark fell.

All in all it was a good day, but I’m tired and full now (possibly even replete) so just a short post. More tomorrow.

Rainy Monday and a feeling of Doom

Well, the elastic bands sort of worked. Only one feeder was knocked off over the weekend, and it retained its contents. On another feeder the band had snapped and was lying in the water container. It makes refilling the feeders a bit more complicated but as it seems to have saved a feeder of Nyger seed it’s worth it.

We had a blue tit visit the feeder I stuck on the window. It announced its presence with an irritating irregular tapping sound, which tends to suggest it might be a bit of a mixed blessing.

Out in the cherry trees down the drive Alasdair spotted a green woodpecker. We’ve had a bit of a chequered history with the species, having some good sightings locally but none round the centre. We hear them all the time and sometimes see something in the distance that flies like one but we’ve not had a good sighting. Alasdair is usually very good on IDs like this, so I added it to the list. A bit later I saw it too, as it rose from the ground and flew down the drive just as Alasdair had reported. Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me.

As I write this there’s more irritating tapping on the window. Julia says it’s a blue tit but as soon as I moved it spooked and flew off.

The keets are all keeping well, as are the two chicks that are in with them. We’ve called it a day with the eggs in the incubator as they were showing no signs of life and were well overdue. That’s what happens when you put dirty eggs in a dirty incubator. I know there’s a skill to it too (It’s not like the monster incubators we used to have at work) but basic attention to detail goes a long way to ensure hatchability.

There are around 17,000 pores in an egg shell. That is 17,000 places for a pathogen to enter. As the egg cools the contents contract and air and is drawn into the shell.

If your egg is laid in a dirty nestbox, or on the floor, the cooling process will suck in germs, which will find the mix of nutrients and warmth in an egg a very good environment.

When I worked in a hatchery we used to candle the eggs at 18 days and transfer them to a hatcher, which had a different environment for the last three days. It was dark in there, it was cramped and , above all, it was 37 degrees C (about 99 degrees F).

Just to add to the excitement, an egg would would occasionally explode when you pulled a tray of eggs out of the rack. These “bangers” were eggs that had incubated a full load of pathogens and, on being disturbed, burst under the pressure. When that happened we used to grab a disinfectant spray and mist the incubator in an attempt to stop a build up of germs. They used to work continuously, so there was never a time when we could switch them off. In fact those machines only stopped three times in 30 years – once when we moved them to another building, once when we programmed a major maintenance programme and once when we switched them off for the final time.

Anyway, backed to the cramped darkness and the stench of a burst egg. It wasn’t pleasant, and it was bad for the other eggs. Sometimes you could see this when candling as you could see a central egg and a spreading ring of eggs around it where it had infected the others.

And so, as my wife gradually draws me back into dealing with poultry, and into incubating more eggs, you can see why the feeling of doom is creeping up on me.

Two of the pictures are from today – the wet one with wheelbarrow and the red one with keets under a heat lamp. The others with poultry are from last week – look how the goslings have grown! Look at the way one of the parents (probably the gander) is thinking of having a go at me. He is going to end up with a shiny jacket and a couple of hours in a low oven if he isn’t careful.

The goats, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth, are planning an escape. I know that because I had to spend 20 minutes getting them back in the pen later that afternoon.

Great days! 😉