This summer I thought it would be nice for the kids to hatch some chicks from eggs. It is a 4-H project available to anyone through an extension office in the big city about an hour away. I sent in the paperwork and checks required right away and received an email a couple weeks later stating that we were picked to participate.
We picked up the incubator, a dozen eggs, and our notebook full of instructions in mid-June. The instructions said to mark our eggs in pencil with an X on one side and an O (circle) on the opposite so we would know when we “turned” them. We were supposed to turn them either twice or three times a day, depending on if you followed the notebook’s instructions or the instructions given us orally when we picked up the materials.
Instead of staid X/O, we drew pictures. One egg had a rose on it, another a horse. There was a dress, a face with a shocked look on it, another face with a happy smile, and a third face looking sad. We referred to the eggs by their picture description as we turned them. I joked to the kids that I thought “shocked face” would be the first one hatched.
We set up the incubator in a closet away from the A/C registers and the crawling baby’s inquisitive hands. The older two girls took turns turning eggs, putting more water in the bottom of the incubator, and learning about the development of chick embryos.
The children were excited and amazed to find one chick almost out of its shell one morning. They were able to watch another make its way out. In the end, however, only those two hatched out of twelve. Dismal odds, I know, but we found out later that most “first timers” don’t do very well and even the veterans only achieve about 50% hatch. (At least two of our eggs were not fertilized and I didn’t check them all, so it is possible that more were like that.)
We named the yellow chick after its “flower” picture and the black one “shocked face.” Shocked Face was the second one out, so although I was correct that he would hatch, I was wrong that he would be the first.
To be continued….