Today would be a good day, we thought, to start some baby chicks.
All this week we've been on an egg-free diet, in an effort to collect enough eggs to make it worthwhile. Now I don't mind not eating eggs for a week, but M's risotto alla Milanese is something to blog about and his homemade vanilla ice-cream is famous in three countries. I miss them both. AJ also misses his risotto, which forms about one-third of his pernickety pre-schooler diet, so the first step towards breeding young chickens was to stockpile a fair amount of both.
Apparently you can keep unincubated eggs for about 10 days before they stop being potentially viable and start looking more like the kind of eggs that go with green ham (Sam I am). You just have to hope that you get enough of roughly the same size in 10 days to get things moving. A quick count reveals 19 in the pantry - that should do us.
Our chickens are a breed that don't go broody very often, so we're using the kunstglucke, a German-made 'artificial hen'. 'Incubator' sounds technologically complicated, but it ain't. The kunstglucke is basically a bit of shaped polystyrene, a foam cushion, a heating element and a thermometer.
Now, I know that they're potatoes and not eggs in the incubator. They're there while the incubator comes up to temperature. Yes, of course we'll be replacing them with eggs. This evening.
Watch this space, but don't be surprised if it isn't a bit like watching one of those intense black-and-white movies they show on BBC2 in the afternoons - not much happens for an awfully long time and then suddenly, there's a flurry of incomprehensible activity, quite a lot of shouting, possibly some tears and before you know it the credits are rolling and you're left mooching around the kitchen looking for a cheese and pickle sandwich.
But that's all pleasure to come. For now the burning questions are :
- how many of our eggs will be fertile?
- how many will survive Mama's delicate three-times-a-day turning?
- will the temperature remain what it should be?
- will we get the humidity right?
- will B. get into the room where the incubator is, lift the lid and splatter the contents against the wall?
- if any of the eggs make it to 21 days, who will be the first to hear the chicks cheep for their mamas from inside the eggs and what silly sod will be there cheeping back at them?
Reference : Incubator from Jaeger und Pfrommer.