The Hovabator that I borrowed is, apparently, one of the best known incubators out there. It is an unassuming looking device, with styrofoam casing, two plugs (one for the heating element, one for the egg turner and–I think–the air circulation), and a wire turny thing on top. The wire turny thing is the thermostat. It took me a good day to get it set at 95.5 degrees by twisting it a bit this way, a twist that way, and so on. But I got it set up perfectly, and the eggs have been basking in hotter weather than we ever get in Seattle since Friday.
Could I leave well enough alone? Oh no. I had to be a chicken hatching pro and candle my eggs this evening. Candling eggs is basically putting them against a bright light (in my case, a flashlight) to see the development of the embryo and to identify bad developments before they explode in the incubator causing smelly, awful messes.
Of course, these are BROWN eggs, which makes it almost impossible to see anything.
And of course, I knocked off the temperature control when I took the lid off the Hovabator. So I just spent an hour getting it back on track. I had a moment of sheer, unadulterated panic when the temp got up to 103.5. It was only for a few seconds and I had that top whipped off faster than you can say boo, so I’m going to assume that all is fine. And really, chickens hatch eggs in hot weather, right? Like really hot weather? We’re back to a cool 99.5 again, so that’s okay.
And another thing that’s okay: I have done such a good job working on Steve to build my coop that he has basically manipulated himself into allowing me to manipulate him into building it without my help.
To explicate: After dinner this evening, we were sitting companionably in the living room; I was reading Ethan Canin’s latest novel (I LOVE Ethan Canin), and he was surfing Craig’s List. All of a sudden he said, “What does this mean? ‘Hens are poor layers, but very tenacious setters, and will brood for months on end.'”
Then he started laughing. “Listen to this. ‘The main drawback to the breed is that thay are pugnacious to an extreme–my hens have learned to leave each other alone, as my dog will interrupt fights, but two-month-old chicks will fight until their eyes swell shut and they can’t stand up.’ Why would you even want chickens like this?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “but why are you looking for chickens on Craig’s List.”
“I was looking for chicken coops,” he said. “The weather’s going to be nice in a few days, and then I’m going to build your coop.”
“What do you mean I? Aren’t I going to help?”
Imagine the crafty glint in my eye. “You mean you’re not going to let me help build my chicken coop?”
“Please?” Because I can’t leave well enough alone.