Saturday, January 10, 2009


With the help of our school district's foundation, I was able to purchase this incubator. It is the Hovabator Genesis 1588. I also purchased the automatic egg turner. Now I have both natural and mechanical egg hatchers!
This is what the automatic egg turner looks like:

(Both photos courtesy of Home and Barn Basics Web Site)

I'm so excited about having this incubator as now I can hatch out my own chicks at a considerable savings. Two fifth graders in my school approached me about hatching chicks for their science fair project. Normally, Michigan State University is a great source for fertilized eggs, but they are in the process of changing their available breeds and they would only have white leghorns available. However, Angelo, who is the manager of the poultry farms at MSU referred me to his boss' parents, who happen to own and operate the Eagle Nest Hatchery in Ohio. I immediately called them and spoke directly with owner Kay Karcher, who walked me through all of her available breeds. With Kay's help, I decided to order fertilized eggs of 12 Rhode Island Reds, 12 Black Sex Links, and 12 Light Brahmas. All three of these breeds will lay nice, big brown eggs and the roosters (which I am expecting at least 18) will grow into 4-6 pound fryers in a short time. The fifth graders are especially goofy about the name Black Sex Link. The reason they are named that is they can be gendered at the time of hatching because the hens are all black and the roosters have some white or gray on their heads. These chickens are also known as Black Stars, but the fifth graders are leaving the original name. (The things that make us giggle!!)

The fifth graders will oversee the entire process and they will be in charge of the incubator, which with their teacher's permission, will be located in a quiet place in their classroom (is there a quiet place in a fifth grade classroom?). They are planning on setting up a twenty gallon aquarium with a heat lamp to display 5-10 of the newly hatched chicks throughout the duration of the science fair.

My insanely jealous third graders are only appeased by my promise that they will be able to name a chick, hold them and cuddle with them before they head to their home in the green barn.
More School News
Each year, my school holds a Family Fun Night. This is a fun-filled evening of free games and food and also an auction, which is our PTO's main fund-raiser. Every year, the teachers each donate a special item, like lunch with your teacher, or in my case, Gym Night for 20 kids. We eat pizza, brownies, Skittles and then play fun games in the gym and/or outdoors, if the weather cooperates.

This year, I am also offering a "Farm Basket" of goodies from our farm. I'm not sure at this point what I will put in there, but it will include eggs, blackberry jam and syrup, Crab apple jelly, grape jelly, tomato sauce, apple butter, apple sauce, and anything else I can coax out of the ground. I want to make soap like Kim over at Achorn Farm, and would love to paint like Laura over at Laura's Watercolors, or make fabulous jewelry, like Gwen over at Desideratum, but I think I'll stick to more basic things.

I did, however, find the plans for a fun looking children's picnic table and am planning on building two of them to auction off. I was thinking about painting them white and then decorating half of the table with MSU (Michigan State University) colors and the other half with UM (University of Michigan) colors.

Drawings courtesy of

I may have to build some more of these to have around the farm!

If Broody is successful with her first hatch attempt, I will have chicks this Wednesday or Thursday. I will let you know next week how that goes.


A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Oh how exciting!
I would love to get an incubator just to have to top up our home flock when neccessary but here in OZ they seem to be around $600!
Cheaper to buy!
But our kids did do hatching at Kinder and loved the whole experience.
They completed work sheets about the stages of hatching and made chook related crafts.
Hope broody completes her part of the deal and you get some new fluffy babies soon.
My Hubby got me some fertile eggs on friday so we have moved ourother eternally broody gal to a run on her own with the eggs...Hope all works out after our recent dissapointment just 5 days from hatching.
This hen though had been "nestin g"on nothing for about 5 days before we could get any eggs so hope her internal body clock does'nt tell her to get off 5 days early again.
She isquite eccentric!

Don said...

country cupcakes:yea for broody hens!

I'll bet your local school district might have an incubator you could "borrow." I know our school loans things to parents. Parents bought the stuff with tax dollars, so it does sort of make sense!

There are inexpensive ones you can get on line tha handle up to four eggs. I'm not sure how reliable they are.

Good luck with your "eggsperiment!"

You have a nice hubby that supports you and your hobby.

laura said...

Hello, Don. Well aren't you clever and busy and kind and sweet! I imagine hatching chicks must be one of the most exciting, awesome a fifth-grader or anyone else could do! Your basket sounds superb--you could sell them (for a small fortune, I'll bet) to those of us who are too far removed from the farm. Ditto the tables--great idea.
(And thanks for the compliment too!)

Denise said...

Don - I remember snickering in the 5th grade, too!

That sparked a memory for me. We had an incubator in our classroom when I was in Kindergarten. Each of us had a special mark to indicate which egg was 'ours'. I remember my chick had a deformed leg. Not long after they hatched, they 'went to the farm'.

I'll be patiently waiting to see if Broody has some chicks.

Susan said...

Fifth-graders! What a great age--excited about everything and still unjaded by teenage angst. Hopefully the hatching project will inspire some of them to become chicken farmers, too.

Boy, do I remember those PTO fundraisers! I was treasurer of ours for five years. We always had a Fall Festival with an auction. Too bad we didn't have any baskets or picnic table like yours. Gives me an idea for my grandkids' school, though. Nice post, Don.

Country Girl said...

I wish I had a cool teacher like you when I was growing up. We would like to get an incubator sometime too. MM looked at yours and said it was a "nice one". The soap I made was really easy.

Don said...

laura: I don't know about the kind, sweet and clever, or even the busy for that matter.

Last year when I hatched out the quail, I had a crowd in my room every day to see the cuties.

There must be something innate for us and baby chicks.

Don said...

denise: I'll bet you are still snickering!

I thought about marking the eggs, but with a projected 80% success rate, I don't want to scar anyone. I'll let them name one that survives and mark them with a sharpie. It's funny to see a little chick walking around with a green stripe on its back!

Don said...

susan: PTO is a great thing, but can be overwhelming if you are the treasurer for five years! Sometimes it is difficult to get parents involved.

Another idea is if you have a local pottery business that lets you decorate things and then fires them for you. We have had classes do egg dishes, plates, mugs, etc.

Don said...

country girl: I wish I had a cool nurse like you when I had my shoulder surgery!

You make everything sound so easy. I am going to make the soap, one of these days.

I have a kiln, but haven't hooked it up yet. I think it would be cool to make soap molds. If I ever get that going, I will make one that says "Country Girl Soap" and ship it over.

Carole@Fowl Visions said...

I have had all the breeds you will be incubating so you and the kids are in for a treat! Have fun putting that basket together. I think it is awesome what you do for your school and the kids.

Don said...

carol: I have had the RIRs, but not the other two. I'm glad you can recommend them!

The kids at school love babies!

The Scavenger said...

Don, you have been nominated for an award, you can learn more over at my blog. Hope you have time to accept. Thanks,


Gwen Buchanan said...

What joyful knowledge you are passing on to your classroom children, Don..
I am so glad to see this..

I think your pack for the school auction will be very sought after... handmade with care...what could be better!!

warren said...

Excellent! I'd love to see our school hatch eggs! Bravo!

jen's farmily said...

We hatched chicks when I was in 3rd or 4th grade and I thought it was the neatest thing ever! We did Rhode Island Reds though. I can't wait to see how Broody does!!

Bob Johnson said...

What a cool post Don, I learn so much here, ie. incubators and egg turners, again I wish I had a teacher like you when I was younger.

You'll have to let us know how your family Fun Night turns out.

Good luck with Broody's chicks.

Farm Chick Paula said...

What an awesome incubator, Don!! No wonder the third graders are jealous!!
Still keeping my fingers crossed for Broody!

Sandy said...

Fun to read and what a nice incubator thing a ma jig...I hope you have a fun night at school and what a great idea to give items from the farm.

enjoyed the post and now off to check out Laura's watercolors...

Ginnie said...

Very smart choices, Don, in your painting colors of those picnic tables! :) I can just see you building them. What a great idea. And of course, I'm just delighted to read about what's going on at your farm and in your classroom these days. Why couldn't I have had you as a teacher in 5th grade???!

carl h. sr. said...

Very cool Don,January chicks!
Shoe and rocks have arrived.
Thank you very much.
Name is done,just needs finish applied now. I was able to leave some bark on the edges.
Later Chicken George;)

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