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I can’t stop candling my eggs

I can’t stop candling my eggs

I’ve candled those eggs every night since day 6, and they’re growing like little chickenweeds. I know I should just leave well enough alone, but I can’t seem to stop. At first, there was one egg I thought had the bacterial ring of death, but it turns out it was a blood vessel–which are harder to see in brown eggs anyway.

As of tonight, this is the tally:

7 you can see the baby chickens bouncing around in
2 where there’s all the right dark/light stuff, and possibly a bounce, but am not totally sure
1 where the dark/light stuff is not as clear, but definitely there
2 infertile eggs, which are absolutely clear, and incidentally funky shaped

I also had a casualty; I got one extra, and it stuck to the egg turner. I tried dribbling some water down the side to dislodge it, but the shell cracked when it finally came out.

Mr. Demo is getting things DONE

Mr. Demo is getting things DONE

Not that our respective mothers believe it. This post is for them.

Here’s what the house looked like before we moved in:

Here’s what it’s looking like today. Excuse the clutter. It’s everywhere, but it’s a lot easier than living without a bathroom sink for six months.

What’s going on outside today?

What’s going on outside today?

Well, for once there isn’t a cloud in the sky. So there’s lots going on — Steve’s building my chicken coop, we have the aforementioned bee condos, lots of plant starts, lots of cleaning. And what do you know? Apparently, there’s this new gallery feature in WordPress. Or was it a plug in? Anyway, let’s check it out …

Bee Condos and Clematis

Bee Condos and Clematis

Steve wanted mason bees in the yard, hence the bee condo (with a corner of the frame of my chicken coop):

Mason bees started swarming, so he built another:

And here’s the clematis:

From Wall Street to Chicken Street

From Wall Street to Chicken Street

Craig’s List is a weird, weird place.

I think I mentioned that I traded handmade soap for use of an incubator. I had posted an ad on CL offering various things for trade, and finally ended up getting the Hovabator from a lovely woman named Delores down in Auburn.

But before I got her message, I got several other replies. There was the guy who offered to hatch them for me for 1/2 the resulting birds. There was the other guy who offered to hatch them for me for a more reasonable 1/4 of the resulting birds. And there were four people offering to sell me an incubator, three for $50 to $100, and one for $400–a steal, he said.

And then there was Michael X. Mills, who wrote me a nice little note:

I do not have an incubator but I would be willing to sit on the eggs and keep them warm until they hatch like a mother bird does.

A generous offer indeed! I am going to take him at his word; according to his e-mail address (and IP address in the message header) Mr. Mills is employed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. I’m guessing his day job isn’t going so well.

Incubating chickens is hard work

Incubating chickens is hard work

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.'”

I explained.

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?”

“No.”

Imagine the crafty glint in my eye. “You mean you’re not going to let me help build my chicken coop?”

“No.”

“Please?” Because I can’t leave well enough alone.

“No.”

“SWEET!”

Nadya Suleman should have been a chicken …

Nadya Suleman should have been a chicken …

… because then hatching that many eggs would would have been completely normal. Observe:

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I’m nervous. I am not sure I completely trust this thermometer. But oh well. Here goes the grand hatching adventure.

It’s a rainy, gloomy, cold sort of day, and Steve is back to working on the house:

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And Harry is doing his favorite thing:
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High Tech Incubator Set Up

High Tech Incubator Set Up

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Ran out and got a thermometer/hygrometer with a wire so I could seal the air vent (where I had stuck in a regular kitchen thermometer for the time being). And I can tell you right now that I KNOW I’m going to wear myself into a frazzle obsessively checking temps.

And now to wait for my eggs. Oh, and pick Mr. Demo up from the airport too, who is not going to be not so happy when he finds out that I didn’t sand the mud and paint as promised. Maybe I’ll cook something as a panacea.

Because I know you’re waiting with bated breath …

Because I know you’re waiting with bated breath …

I’m getting my eggs tomorrow. FINALLY, the post office has a status update:

Your item was processed and left our FEDERAL WAY, WA 98003 facility on April 8, 2009. Information, if available, is updated every evening. Please check again later.

Were there ever such sweet words?

WAAAAH!

WAAAAH!

1. I have successfully manipulated Steve into helping me build the chicken coop. I didn’t even have to stand over piles of lumber looking clueless. All it took was a simple conversation (over the phone because he’s in Rockford visiting the folks):

Me: I bought and downloaded a chicken coop plan.
S: Why did you do that? I could replicate pretty much any plan.
Me: You said you wouldn’t help me.
S: Can you return it?
Me: Does that mean you’ll help me?
S: Okay.

2. It turns out Carrie doesn’t have an incubator, which I found out after I ordered the eggs. I ended up trading a lady on Craig’s List handmade soap for the use of hers. Bargain!

3. I talked to Geoff about placement. We’re all good.

AND NOW THE POST OFFICE SEEMS TO HAVE LOST MY EGGS.

****Update: The seller went to his PO, and they said that sometimes tracking information doesn’t show–so maybe they’re NOT lost.

I am getting chickens

I am getting chickens

Barnevelder chickens. They are amazingly pretty and lay dark brown eggs. Great photos here. I’ve been dreaming about doing this for a long time, and figured why now now? I ordered the hatching eggs yesterday. Carrie, on the corner, offered up one of her broody hens to hatch a few of them, and is lending me her hatching apparatus for the rest. (Barnevelders are big birds, and her broody hen is quite small.)

I’m setting up the coop on Geoff’s lower stretch. Haven’t started building it, but I figure this will get me motivated in terms of deadline. I even have a scheme: What I am going to do is get a plan, get all the materials, and then start putting it together. Steve will come over to see what I’m doing. He will then pronounce my efforts an abortion, and help. I’m really hoping that he’ll just take over building it, but we’ll see.

Hey Pam! Here’s some progress

Hey Pam! Here’s some progress

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So you can see the bedside tables I got from the auction–exactly what I’ve been coveting. Steve put in the windows (they weren’t there before), and built the trim around them. He still has to do the trim around the big bank on the adjacent wall. He says when I helped him install the windows, I put them in crooked. So he has to redo them–and it’s all my fault.

Made out like a bandit

Made out like a bandit

Last night’s auction was pretty incredible, and it was also emptier than usual. So I lucked out. First, I snagged two Danish modern teak bed side tables–the exact tables we needed for our bed (the platform kind with all the storage). Only difference is that these are about 50 years older. I think they might even be solid teak.

Next, I also snagged a Junichiro Sekino woodblock for next to nothing. It was in a terrible frame, and the colors seemed pretty dingy. But it lightened up without the grimy glass–and it was framed flat on painted plywood, so it’s still in pretty good condition. I found it in the Sekino reference book Elias gave me (thank you): It’s Minakuchi from the Tokaido series.

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Ukelelic inspiration

Ukelelic inspiration

Did I mention that Steve got laid off?

He’s actually pretty thrilled about it. Good severence, plus lots of tax money coming back (insert self-employed bitter rant here). The good news is that he’s finishing some of the projects around the house. We now have trim around the windows in the bedroom, and he’s finished the trim and new fir doors.

The bad news is that he’s taken up the ukelele again.

I came home the other day to find him strumming A Bicycle Built for Two.

“I have plenty of time,” he explained, just a tad defensively. “I’m going to become a maestro.”

“I’m waiting for the Stairway to Heaven ukelele solo,” I said.

It was a joke. But apparently not. Stairway to Heaven ukelele solos abound on YouTube. I’ve created a monster.

This morning

This morning

If you can believe it, I actually got up this morning when Steve did–at 4:30. He does it because he has to (though apparently he “slept in” a little); I did it because I fell asleep last night at 8. Which is completely weird. Also weird were the dreams I had, in which all the soap in my drawer of soaply delights melted into a gooey, unsalvageable mess while I went from door to door trying to peddle the stuff. Considering all the oddness, it felt completely natural to wake up to an unseasonal snowfall.

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I commuted this morning.

I commuted this morning.

I slung my briefcase over my shoulder this morning, whistled for the dog, and commuted down the alley.
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This white thing is the official Chez Munshi Shack:mc3.jpg

Admittedly, every time I come to the front door, I feel like I’m being incarcerated:
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But it’s not so bad when you walk in:
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Hard at work:
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New Office Pix

New Office Pix

I still have to get curtains up, finish hanging pictures, rearrange rugs, etc. But it’s starting to be quite habitable.

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