Starting incubating project

After ten years of homeschooling, I’m finally taking on the hands on project of incubating eggs!

Last night we went to a local farm to pick up fertile eggs and rent an incubator.  Weeks ago when I first talked to the kids about doing this, we went back and forth on whether we wanted to hatch duck eggs or chicken eggs.  I was leaning towards chicks, the kids were leaning towards ducklings – they said ducklings are much cuter.  So duck eggs it was.

We turned the incubator on last night so the heat would be up and stabilized by this morning, when we planned to place the eggs in it.  But it was only at 80 degrees, and we realized that there were two plugs that needed to be plugged in, and we’d only plugged in one of them.  We plugged in the second one and after a relatively short while, the incubator was up to 120 degrees – it’s supposed to be at 100.

There’s a thermometer inside the incubator, but nothing to indicate how high the heat is on the knob – it just says ‘increase’ and ‘decrease’.  But how are you supposed to know how much to increase or decrease it?!  I haven’t yet figured it out.  I’m hoping in the morning it will have decreased to 100 degrees, because I really want to get the eggs started.

Along with the eggs and incubator, I ordered some books from the library as well as a dvd.  The books all have a hatching eggs theme, though some are much more scientific and others are whimsical.   All of these were recommended to me by the person who we rented the incubator from and the comments following about the books are hers.  She is very knowledgeable and I found her list helpful as well as her comments, so I’m sharing both here with you.

  • Rechenka’s Eggs Patricia Polacco – this is really about a goose and decorated eggs and the surprise of a hatchling.  The story could lead to a discussion of Russian culture or an art activity of decorating eggs in the Pysanky style or Ukrainian Easter Eggs
  • The Talking Eggs by Robert San Souci, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney – beautifully illustrated book set in the Creole South. This is a folktale or a fable with a point about beauty and obedience.
  • I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakite – this book is based on a real life experience and follows the tradition of getting a chicken for loosing a tooth along with the hen laying eggs and sitting them.
  • The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice Harrington – the artist has used collage materials to make the chickens. Using a simple body shape and wing shapes, one could follow up this story with scrapbooking paper to make your own colorful flock.
  • Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller – an Easy book that presents a variety of egg laying animals and how the eggs are hatched.
  • An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni – the fun part of this book is that it points up the idea presented in Chickens Aren’t The Only Ones. It also teaches something about how far a ‘know it all’s’ perception and misinformation can lead you down the wrong path.
  • Dora’s Eggs by Julie Sykes – a brightly colored book that takes you through the hen’s finding value in her eggs, and then finding value in becoming a mother.
  • The Chicken or the Egg—Rookie Read About Science – illustrated with photographs, this book has an emphasis on vocabulary building.
  • Where Do Chicks Come From? Let’s Read and Find Out Science Amy Sklansky – really nicely illustrated ‘inside the egg’ progression of incubation.

I didn’t get all of these books to start off, but I did get four or five, and so far I find them to be complementary of one another, not redundant at all.  It takes four weeks to incubate duck eggs, three weeks for chicken eggs, so I have some more time to get the rest of the books while we’re still engaged with this project.

The dvd I got is called Fly Away Home, about a girl who finds a bunch of goose eggs and incubates them herself.  They imprint on her and the movie is in large part about her and her flock of geese.  Totally fiction, but I thought it would tie in nicely.  I find the best time to introduce information is when it ties in with what we’re already learning about, since it’s all naturally being reinforced.  There are two very brief scenes in this that I’ll need to forward past (I preview most movies before I show them to my kids and sit with a remote in my hand whenever we watch something), but otherwise it looks fine.

I’m planning to get fertile chicken eggs on Thursday, and will put them in to incubate a week after the duck eggs go in (the incubator can hold up to 40 eggs)- whenever that will be.  That way they’ll all be hatching about the same time.  I’ll keep you posted!

(This post is part of the Carnival of Homeschooling.)


13 thoughts on “Starting incubating project

  1. Have fun!!!
    I’m not completely sure , but I think I recall that Fly away home is actually based on a real story (I think it said so at the end of the movie). In any case, it’s a really nice DVD….
    On a side note- what are you planning to do with the ducklings in the long term?

  2. That is so inspirational that you rented out an incubator and are buying local fertilized eggs. Whenever I daydream about “my future flock of layers” I always feel like there’s this ethical dilemma of wanting to compassionately raise my own chicks, but having to have them shipped live in the mail, which is at least a little cruel, in my opinion. But your plan totally bypasses that ethical dilemma. Great idea.

  3. Hi Avivah –
    Good luck with the eggs!!! I believe fly away home is based on a true story. I think it talks about that somewhere in the moovie

  4. I knew someone would ask what we would do with them! I haven’t yet totally decided. We’d like to keep three or four egg laying birds, but it’s dependent on if we can get a fence up and a coop built in the next few weeks. The others will find a good home at the farm where we got the eggs.

    Thanks for the clarification about the movie being based on a true story -I watched the video several years ago and didn’t remember that. Knowing that makes it even better, and when we watch the video, I’ll look for the name of the book it was based on so we can get it at the library.

    1. Probably not, since laying hens don’t generally sit on nests – I think they usually have nesting boxes, and unless they’re broody I don’t think most hens sit on their eggs. But I might be wrong – I’m not an expert. :)

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