Saturday, March 29, 2008

Q-Day: The Invasion Has Begun

In February, my school had its annual science fair. A fifth grade girl was hatching Coturnix quail as her science project. She kept meticulous records and sadly, out of 24 eggs, only one quail survived. His name is Piggy. She asked me if I would take Piggy to my farm and I, of course, said yes. Hmm, what to do with ONE quail, and it was a raucous male to boot. I called the poultry department at Michigan State University and talked with Angelo, who is an amazing man. I ended up ordering 18 Coturnix quail eggs that would hatch on March 26. I arranged to pick up the eggs on March 24 and promptly placed them in an incubator in my third grade classroom. I got to school a little early on the 26th, and could hear their peeping before I opened the door! 14 of them had already hatched and were spazzing around in the incubator. I got out my video camera and started filming them. I got three or four of them escaping their eggs on film, with students watching along with me. How fun is that?! I am going to try to get some of that footage on here.

The picture below shows the empty eggs. Whew, that was a lot of work for the little guys.

Here they are, just 7 hours old. They sleep for two minutes and then run around frantically for two minutes and then it's back to sleep. They are so tiny!


I love this photo my wife shot of this chick. The marbles were in my classroom, and did a nice job of keeping the drowning fatalities low. The blue marbles are called "Blue Dolphins." I did lose two to drowning. One of them drowned in less than an eighth of an inch of water!

Did i tell you they are tiny? Well, it is hard to believe that those little eggs can produce a little chick and that it can survive! I am amazed at these little marvels.


Don't you want to to reach into that pile O' chicks and cuddle? The one with the red on its head isn't injured, that's Quincy. I used permanent marker, it's the only way I could think of to mark them so the students could name them! Other names I can remember are Louie, Cheep-Cheep, Pidgie, and Courtney.


I am going to build them a nice quail run complete with outside run. We're looking forward to serving our little nieces and nephews a fun mini egg breakfast, and also we are salivating over pickled quail eggs. If you have a good recipe, please let me know!

April 7, I have 30 layers plus a mystery chick coming in the mail from McMurray. The invasion has begun!

37 comments:

Amy said...

I can't believe such tiny things can even live! They are so precious. I've heard that quail are the most fun to raise. I work with a guy who raises 100 Bob Whites every year and he loves them and calls them his babies. Thanks for sharing your experience. Maybe someday I'll give quail a try too.

LeenaM said...

You are doing invaluable work, when you let your pupils to see all this happening , I appreciate it as a former biology teacher that very much. Reading and seeing in person is quite different matter.

Good Sunday to you and Ruth!

Ruth said...

I forgot Leena was a biology teacher. She is a woman of many talents and skills. And I told you her little granddaughter wants to come help with these babies, the sweetie.

Cooking quail eggs in a ladle, how cute! I do think we should have a children's mini breakfast on Farm Day. And I can't wait to taste the pickled quail eggs, yum.

This is very fun, Don. You're pulling me into the love of farming and not just being a bystander. I'm still pretty lazy, but maybe the love of it will drive me to work like you do. But don't count on it. Like little Melissa, I'll help.

Don said...

Amy: Thanks for dropping by! I agree with you on the size thing. As my class observed the eggs on Monday and Tuesday before they hatched, they were making comments like that. One student remarked that hummingbird eggs are far smaller than those and they live. We all just looked at her and nodded like we knew or understood something big.

leenam: I love that you are a biology teacher! One of my biggest goals as a teacher is to help the girls see that they are and can be smart in math and science. My best writer this year is a girl and she now is interested in becoming a veterinarian or a zoologist because the female vet at our local zoo told her that the most important skill she has as a vet is being able to write. You go girls!!
ps we are waiting for a visit from you and your granddaughter, you can have the entire upstairs!

Ruth: I like how we are getting connected with life through the lives of these little creatures. Now we have to get our green thumbs revved up!

Loring Wirbel said...

Some folks down the street have an adjoining quail farm and dog boarding kennel. It would be interesting to run a study to see if dog yelping leads to more stressed-out young quails!

Heather said...

Oh, totally awesome cuteness. That is amazing! They are beautiful little dumplings of feathers and bones and sinew. Cutie Wooties! I do want to cuddle them. Man, I haven't cuddled with chickies in so long. I'll pass the post on to my Dad-man so that he can comment eventually. He's coming back to MI soon. They were in sunny FL for a month visiting my grandmother and hanging out with a tortoise that lives in my grandmother's backyard down there.

Those chicks remind me of tiny tigers because of their stripes. Tiger birds!

Sandy said...

Oh...I love these pics!!!!

sandy

Don said...

Loring: i wonder about background noise like predator/dogs. Do they instinctively know that? Our son Peter and I were just wondering what it's like for these little dudes to be without a grownup leader mom in there with them. Do they feel disconnected?

Heather: They are so teeny and cute. Our friend Inge made the same comment about tiger birds. They aren't very ferocious.

Sandy: Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. My wife takes all the photos, I just steal them.

Rauf said...

i learnt something today Don, thank you. perhaps your third graders know more than me. Beautiful pictures.

Don said...

Rauf: Of all the people I know, you lead the pack as a "life-long learner!"

Gwen Buchanan said...

ohh... these little guys/gals are the sweetest little things... so delicate

I use to have pet Aragana chickens and they are so smart... and lay colored eggs... Now you are making me want them again... gwen

Don said...

Gwen: Watch out! Once the chicken bug bites, it hangs on until you give in! I hope to have some of your chickens in my order. I'll let you know

Gwen Buchanan said...

Oh Don,that will be great.. i really love that you are reusing the old doors.. Old doors are some of my favorite things... we used so many of them in the house we built. all shapes and sizes... some were damaged in the top or bottom panels so we cut them apart and used them for cupboard doors. Every door in our house is recycled , some from old fallen down farmhouses, some from yardsales, flea markets. (we gathered about 40. yeah we made use of a lot of good old stuff.) some by the side of the road, even a pair of them from an old church that are 4' wide each, to make double doors that are 8 feet wide. When we were designing our home we made the openings the right sizes to fit all of them.
Good luck with your project and your chicks. I'll keep checking in...

Don said...

Gwen: Your house sounds very interesting. Our old farmhouse was updated by previous owners and is sort of hidden under modern materials. I'm not sure if I have the oomph to restore it to its original state. The inside is another story. We hope to "farmitize" by reusing old things like tubs, sinks, cabinets, etc.

laura said...

What a beautiful, truly heart-warming post. The chicks are adorable and your students are so fortunate; though so will we all be if they, through this experience, develop a lifelong interest in biology and earth sciences!

chickengirl said...

Aaaaaww!!!!! They're so tiny and cute! I love them. I don't think I've ever seen anything so cute and tiny and living, all at the same time!

Don said...

Laura: THank you for visiting and leaving such a nice comment. My students are a little mad at me for taking them home to the farm! I promised them that I would bring them in for occasional visits.

Chickengirl: They are growing by leaps and bounds, mostly leaps! They look like mini wallabees jumping around. I need to get them into a bigger brooder and fast!

Sandy said...

Hi Don...can't wait to see updates when you get a chance!

sandy

Sandy said...

Well wow....Just listened to some of Meridian. Great band your son is a part of!! I really enjoyed it.

sandy

Don said...

Sandy: I am looking forward to updates myself! This weekend I have a work crew coming to get the coop enclosed. That will make me a very happy boy! Thank you for giving Meridian a listen. I am very proud of Peter. He has really poured his heart and soul into that SRV guitar.

Ruth said...

Don, you'd better get home! The chicks are no longer chicks. They're monsters, standing shoulder to shoulder in the aquarium, wondering where the farmer is who put them in there! I swear they're twice as big as they were a week ago when they were born.

- nervous chick-sitter (I'll do my best to keep them contained, but if I'm gone when you get home tomorrow, you'll know what happened.)

chickengirl said...

Oh, I know! Whenever we open the door to our chicks' brooder, they fly around everywhere! Some can even make it to the edge of the brooder... Good thing there are doors!!

Don said...

Ruth: I'm coming home Wed. evening! The quail are going to the big brooder in the barn first thing Thursday. They are getting huge, (relatively speaking!)

Chickengirl: I hope you are doing ok after your terrible experience with the neighbors' dogs.

Ginnie said...

Let the games begin! HA! I'm loving this venture, Don (and Ruth) and am so glad you're journaling us through it.

Bob Johnson said...

Don very cool pics, love the one Ruth took especially, wish I had school like this when I was in grade 3. :)

Sandy said...

Well he does a mean guitar...wonderful!

and glad you're getting the coup done..

now...one more question...how are those doors.

dig this chick said...

Holy cow they are tiny! Gorgeous photos. Quails. How exotic.

Don said...

ginnie: I know I am having fun! The little dudes have migrated out to the barn and will end up in a nice quail home that I think Todd will build.

Bob: I think I will do this every year. The students and the parents were really hanging out in my room There were some days when I had thirty people in my class for 1/2 hour after school just watching!

Sandy: I hope I get the coop done! If I don't, life will be interesting. Yes, Peter can play that guitar.

Hey Dig this Chick: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. i enjoyed your blog a lot.

LeenaM said...

Don, keep telling to girls, that their brain can be as good as boy`s brain in Mathematics
and sciences too, my favorite subject in school was Math :)
Yesterday my cousin`s daughter had a public defence of a doctoral thesis about "Cloud drop activation of surface active and insoluble aerosols". It`s a physics of the environment, punctually "Atmospheric
Chemistry and Physics".

She is also a mother of one year old baby, Melissa`s small cousin :)
Everything is possible nowadays also to the girls!

Have a good weekend!
We want eagerly see, how quail chicks are doing now.
Atmospheric
Chemistry
and Physics

Don said...

Leenam: How nice for your cousin and her/his daughter! Those doctoral theses are quite complicated! I need to become a PhD just to read the titles. I am going to get my photographer busy today, so I can get an updated post on the happenings in and around the Green Barn.

lesleyanne said...

the chickens are coming on Monday!!!! that's fantastic! i love the names of the chicks, Courtney. hah....i laughed out loud at that one. i think it's so funny when pets are given very random human names.

what a great birthday present for you. i am ready to have an animal in my life. or animals.

The Unusually Unusual Farmchick said...

You make me want quail now...Thanks Don! I will try to focus on Bee's so the Captain does not get overwhelmed...Tying to focus, but it's so hard when you see the tiny cute chicks. When we purchase the larger land, i can start begging for quail (and my milk cow).
Love the pictures.

Don said...

LesleyAnne: Hey daughter! I agree with the animal names. Courtney? nice name, but for a quail? I thought cheep cheep was kinda cheap too. I don't know if I will name the hens, but they will probably acquire names as they grow and their personalities evolve.

Unusually Unusual Farmchick: These quail are a hoot! at 10 days old, they are already half feathered out. I think you will enjoy them, I'll let you know in a few months.

freefalling said...

"Spazzing about".
Funny.
And beautifully descriptive.

You have a poultry department at the university?!

Simple Family Supper lady said...

Thanks for the visit... I will post some pics of our new chicks... I'm not the photographer you (or your wife) is! I tried to hatch out quail last year... in fact I hatched them out just fine, I just couldn't keep any of them alive!!!! I wish I had found you last year.... I obviously was doing something WRONG!!!!! Yours are BEAUTIFUL!!!
By the way, I have a daughter in the third grade (and son in 4th, son age 5 and son age 3). I love when I hear of male teachers... we need more of them. Our school only has 2... My son has had the opportunity of having one for a while (he filled in for a teacher on maternity leave).
Have a blessed day!
Heather

Don said...

Heather: I wonder what happened to your quail? Male teachers are rare in elementary. I guess you just have to do what you love!

Charisse said...

Thanks for writing this.