Thursday, May 23, 2013

More ...

So we started with three chicks, bought live at the feed store, quickly followed by two more. All five survived the brooder box and eventually moved outside to an enclosure/coop/small yard I built out back. They're huge now. They'll be laying in a couple of months. We let them free range at least a couple of hours a day, and they seem ... content.

The one who wasn't content was Liam. He enjoyed raising the chicks from "just a few days old" to "reasonably self-sufficient," but what he really wanted -- bad enough to spend some saved Christmas money and allowance on a $70 incubator -- was to hatch some of his very own.

So, OK. Part of the whole homeschool/unschool bit is letting the kids figure out what they're interested in and then facilitating that as a learning tool, right? And there's quite a bit of learning to be done there.

We bought some free range eggs at a local farmers' market (the guy said that some of them would likely be fertile). Liam stuck nine of them in the incubator, faithfully turned the eggs daily, candled them periodically to check out development, monitored temperature and humidity, etc., and ~21 days later ...

Four of the eggs weren't fertilized (or at least didn't develop enough for candling to reveal anything happening).

One of the eggs did develop, but the chick never made it out of the egg, for whatever reason (the corpse didn't look like it had fully developed).

Four of them hatched, and the little critters seem to be healthy.

So, four of nine from a random assemblage of eggs, four of five from those we know were actually fertilized. Not bad for a kid who just turned 12 two weeks ago and wasn't raised on a farm, in my opinion.

On the other hand, he's now desperately trying to re-negotiate the "we have enough chickens, we don't want any roosters, these will have to either be given away or killed and eaten" clause we agreed on when he decided he had to do this.

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