We’ve got life cycle lessons going on at the homestead. I’ve been collecting eggs and put them in a borrowed incubator on Sunday the 11th.
I put a total of 5 dozen plus one in the incubator. It’s a Hova-bator- the simple still air version with no automatic egg turner. It’s my first time using an incubator and I’m experimenting a bit with the whole thing. I’ve decided to try the egg carton method and I’m rotating the eggs by raising the incubator itself on one end, switching which end 3 times a day. That way I don’t have to turn 61 eggs 3 times a day. The 3 banty eggs on the top are the only ones I have to turn each time.
Some more experiments: Due to my egg eaters (another post for another time) and maybe the cooler weather still, I struggled to gather many eggs in a 10 day timeframe. I wanted to fill the incubator and make it worth the electric and time. I bought a dozen fertile eggs from my uncle and got 9 more from the lady I borrowed the incubator from. I also threw in a dozen+ that had been stored in the fridge, points up, unrotated, for more than 10 days… All no-no’s according to conventional incubating wisdom, although some people say it can be done. I THINK that several of those are developing.
I took the first egg out of the incubator today. I’ve candled it a few times. There’s been a ring that rotates around, moving with the egg as I turn it, and I could see little else indicating development. There’s several others I’m watching, but I took the plunge and removed one today. To my relief (and contrary to my dreams last night- full of oozing, stinking,exploding eggs in the incubator) it didn’t stink yet. Today is day 9 of 21.
Pictures of it on my homemade candler- note the ring going around the inside of the egg in both pictures:
A picture of it cracked open:
There was a tiny chick embryo (see the small whitish spot on the bottom of the yolk in the picture above), but this egg is clearly a “quitter.” The embryo should be much bigger by now and there should be vessels and such. Hard to see, but I’ll throw in the “closeup” pic of the embryo as well. You can see a dot that is the eye and the buds for the wings. That’s all I know to identify.
I’ll try to post pics of more of the progress as time goes on. My candler (lamp in a box with a hole; 60 watt fluorescent bulb) isn’t that great- I need to find a better way (aka a good strong little flashlight).
My mom came over and helped me “cull” my extra Chantecler rooster that I’d kept over the winter. He was just under a year old. I would have had a harder time deciding between the 3, except this one volunteered for the stew pot. He started to rush me and act like he was going to attack- never quite attacked, but I didn’t like having to watch my back every time I stepped into the chicken run- especially since I was doing it so often to collect eggs for incubating.
It’s been many years since my mom had chickens to dispatch- and I’m not sure if she ever had to do some of the parts we had to that day. And my only experience was helping when I took my extra roos to the amish last fall (I wrote about it here).
I made a “cone” out of aluminum coil stock- and found it needs to be adjusted to allow the body of the chicken into the cone further for next time.
It took MUCH longer to process than I remember the amish taking. I think there should be a warning somewhere, too, about year old roosters being much harder to eviscerate than 6 month old roosters. My thought is that the connective tissues inside are much more established, as well as the bony structures. I found it much more difficult to get my hand into the body cavity and the organs much more solidly attached. I never did find anything recognizable as a kidney- I think they all just mushed through the connective tissues near the back bone. And those white kidney shaped things along the back must be an item you find only in a mature rooster…
Either way, we got it done and I soaked him in ice water. I neglected to weigh anything- I really need to get a small scale.
Then stuck him in the crockpot all day on low as in the recipe I found here at Wilke Farms.
This is the meat I picked off. VERY dark meat- I was surprised at HOW dark it was.
I made stock out of what was left of the carcass and some veggies. I tried the crockpot method, kind of like I saw here at Nourishing Days.
I’m not real excited about my stock attempts yet. I’m going to try the method from my “American Classics” cookbook next time. I’d love to have some flavorful, chicken-y stock. I’m disappointed that I have to add chicken bullion to my chicken stock. There’s just something wrong with that to me.
We had my parents over and enjoyed some “mean chicken and biscuits” for Sunday lunch.
Another lifecycle lesson to come- Norma the dexter cow should be calving within the next 2 weeks! her “due date” is March 28. Lannie, now the neighbors, had a heifer calf on the 9th (due date was the 7th).
All this while John prepares to leave for a missions trip to Haiti. The calf will probably be here when he gets home, but he should be back in time to see eggs hatching (He’s not as excited as I am about it though!)