Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Chicken Midwife

My dad fancies himself a farmer, and I should have known that as soon as I got this incubator project going that he'd want in on it.

The phone calls started the day I picked up the incubator:

Ashley: Hello?

Dad: I had that incubator set up and runnin' at 105 degrees. It's supposed to be right around there.

Ashley: Oh. Hi. Really? The internet said lower than that, like between 100-102, right around there.

Dad: Well I was really close for guessing. It doesn't matter, if you keep them warm they'll hatch.

Ashley: Well not really. You could cook them, and they need humidity, and you have to turn them three times a day.

Dad: No. No way. There's no way those chickens are turnin' those eggs three times a day or the humidity's the same or any of that. I've lived on a farm all my life (this is not entirely true) and I've never seen a chicken turn her egg. It'll work. Trust me, it'll work.

Ashley: Well, they do too turn their eggs, they just poke their beak down there and turn them, and they need the humidity to help them hatch from their shells. I'm sure they aren't as scientific about it but I'm going to go with the internet on this one.

Dad: Hmmph. What are you going to do, put a plus and a minus on opposite sides of the eggs and turn them?

Ashley: Yes, like a X and a O or something.

Dad: Yeah, I would do a plus and a minus. What are you going to do about humidity?

Ashley: A pie plate of water.

Dad: I had never heard of all that. Should be interesting. Bye.

This conversation was followed by several more, all inquiring about the current state of the eggs and then offering more made up advice. The volume of calls is notable because he probably calls here 5 times a year and he has called here at least 5 times since I picked up the incubator.

I told my mom that I think he just wants to do it himself now and she said that as soon as the incubator arrived, he started saying that he could just do it over there and give us the chicks, until she pointed out that that sort of defeated the whole purpose.

I finally had to let him know that we'd update him as soon as there was any updating to be done and now he makes my mom ask every time she calls, just to bug me.

He did spend some of his early childhood on his grandparents' farm (sidenote: my name was inspired by their wood burning stove), where they killed chickens for dinner and the whole nine yards, but he is far from an expert on anything. He admits that he couldn't kill a chicken these days, which is quite a step forward because we used to have a greyhound with only three functional legs, and on her bad days he used to insist that "down on the farm" someone would just take that dog out to the back 40 and shoot it.

Finally, we all got so sick of hearing it that we would just tell him to take her on back there and do it, that he was right and it was no way to live. Needless to say, that ended that spiel and Ivy lived on until she was put to sleep in the vet's office after a long and happy life.

His father had a very large herd of cattle and the family had assumed that he was doing some farming now that he was retired, until he died and the books were reviewed and it was discovered that he had never sold one cow. That he just had hundreds of pet cows, that he cared for and enjoyed.

So "faux farming" runs in my family, I think.

I also think it would also be safe to assume that my mom will have an incubator sitting on her kitchen table in the not too far future.

And that he's really going to make me nuts on hatching day.


Jill said...

This sounds very familiar. Let me guess...your father provides advice in a tone of voice that suggests he is providing factual data that you already should have known (because he did).

Jennifer said...

When I was a little girl, my 'job' was to help my grandfather turn the eggs in the incubator twice a day. I think he put "m" and "n" on the eggs to mark for morning and night, so you could tell the last time you turned them if you got distracted and forgot... Not that anything like that would happen!

A.D. said...

If you have any incubating questions that can't be answered on-line, let me know ( I know nothing about it, but my dad runs a quail farm and incubates/hatches eggs so I could just pass the question on to him. He would actually really enjoy it if I called and asked him an incubating question since I've never taken much interest in it :)! Good luck with the chicks!

Anonymous said...

Dads are so much fun aren't they?? I recently cut down a few small-medium sized trees in my front yard and my dad was there giving me advice (criticism) every step of the way. (Note: I was cutting them down because Mr. Katie was not happy about cutting them down - he agreed, but wasn't going to participate in the slaughtering of trees.)

First, it was "Those clippers aren't meant for that" when I was trimming off some branches. My response "Well, then Home Depot really shouldn't advertise them as tree trimming clippers.

Second, it was "That's not really the right tool to be doing that with" when I was using his Sawzall to cut them down. My response "Yes, as I already explained to you several times - I know that dad. But noone we know has a chainsaw and I'm not going out to buy one just to cut down these little trees."

Finally, it was "This is going to make a really big mess." My response was "Really? Cutting down trees makes a mess? I figured the tree fairy just came by, waved her magic wand and it all just disappeared?" He stormed off and went home.

When is he going to learn that I'm all grown up now and can figure some of these things out on my own? *Sigh*


P.S. I'm glad he wasn't there when one of the trees fell on my head! Hehe

Audubon Ron said...

There are incubators that also rotate the eggs.

You might want to make sure you have the right rooster to hen ratio going. You don't want three roosters and one hen. Way big whup-ass in the front yard all the time if you get that and little mama hen gets gang rapped by the boyz, will embarrass you in front of your neighbors.

I think most feed stores will or can actually sex them for you and order them locally.

Laural Out Loud said...

You know, all this chick talk is making me want an incubator. I don't know what the heck we'd do with the chicks once they hatched, since we live in a condo with a small patio out back, but heck, I want to turn eggs three times a day and see the fruit of my labor!

I won't, as long as I can read about YOU doing it. Loving these posts!

Maddness of Me said...

So totally sounds like my dad.

When I was caring for my sick old cat (sub-q fluids, meds, internists, the whole nine yards for 2 years) my dad would say "just get another cat". Repeatedly.

Seriously. Pissed. Me. Off.

Lynda Kay said...

your dad cracks me up..btw-we want to be there on hatching day, too!

Anonymous said...

Faux farming-I love it. I've been wanting a pig, but it's against my HOA guidelines. Little do 'they' know, I'm raising the weinie dogs for meat. :0 Watch out Murph.

Really-what are you planning to do with the chickens? Or is all about annoying that bitchy neighbor of yours?

KatBouska said...

Awwww...your Dad sounds so sweet and cute...(whining) I waaaaant one!!!

If you could get a picture of your Dad WITH the incubator I will put it on my that creepy??

Anonymous said...

That sounds like so much fun actually...hubby doesn't want a dog...may be he would go for some chickens??? :)

AFRo said...

ROFLMAO at "Well I was close for guessing!"

Lipstick said...

OMG...let me just say that I laughed so hard at this post that it just cured my hiccups. I'm totally serious.

My great aunt and uncle were big "faux farmers" too. They had all these cows and they used to guide them from pasture to pasture by saying "come on baby."

Danielle said...

I'm a kindergarten teacher and I just took my little "babies" back to Farmer Todd today. It is such an unforgettable experience for children. Every year, I say I'm not going to do it...and every year I end up doing it! And you know what? When kids come back to see me years later, hatching chickens is what they remember most about kindergarten! Good luck!

Lipstick said...

Danielle, I love that you took your kindergarteners to a farm! I got to go to a farm in kindergarten (29 years ago, gasp) and I remember it like it was yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Awwww. He's a proud granddaddy to those little chicks!! You can't blame him for caring about those chicklings! Fathers think they know everything, anyway. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hehe, gotta love dads that know everything. Dontcha know, you're spoilin' those chicks by turnin' em?! I keep my babies at 99.5-100.5 degrees in a still air styrofoam incubator and have had no probs. Good luck Mama Hen!!

Shakespere said...

Hi. I enjoyed your blog. It is very fun to read.

absurdly yours said...

I love it! They must give dads this course in the hospital about acting like a know it all when most of the time they are full of ****! (well you know) My sister and I just do it for a laugh now. We can ask anything and he is an expert on it, or so he thinks!
I teach 4th grade. Do you think they are too old for me to do this in class? I could order an incubator and find someone to take the chicks once they hatch. Or maybe I should give them to the students as prizes...ha ha! The parents would love that!

Mamahut said...

Ya gotta love him! When you need to go out of town at least you know you will have a chick sitter.