Hen 2

Sometimes my efforts to do something that may lift my spirits backfire. That’s what happened with my recent attempt to incubate quail eggs. At first I thought it was because the temperature in the incubator fell below 100 degrees in the last 3 days, but then I found out that a minor decrease would just delay the hatch. So I waited four more days. Still no hatch.

What went wrong? Were the eggs even fertile? The only way to find out was to open them up, but I was scared to look. Would I find partially developed embryos? Or deformed little chicks? Did I really want to see that? Not really, but I gathered my courage and broke each one open. My fear subsided as I discovered one after the other, that they weren’t even fertilized. All I found was old yokes and whites.

I was relieved, but my hope of being transported to a magical happy place by tiny hatchlings had been crushed. Disappointment like this plunges me into a very dark place. It doesn’t help that our oldest dog, Dixie, who has survived cancer and three major surgeries, is wasting away, and every time I look at her I want to cry. But I know, after many years of living with this disaster thinking, that my reaction to the failed hatch is inappropriate and irrational.

Sooo, I did something I’d never done before. I impulsively went online and ordered some fertile quail eggs. I’d never considered doing this because I usually have plenty, but I only have one female now, and, as it turns out, her eggs may not be fertile.

When I Googled “fertile quail eggs,” Amazon popped up with a good deal on a dozen, and I placed my order. But the name of the company  wasn’t given, so I don’t much about them. When tracking the package I could see the place of origin was Hazel Green, Alabama, but that was all I could find.

They arrived on Friday, very well wrapped. Each egg was swaddled in facial tissue and securely placed in a miniature egg carton, which was wrapped in several layers of paper towel and put in a little cardboard box, inside another little cardboard box. The boxes were in a bubble wrap envelope with “FRAGILE – EGGS” written in large letters on the front and back. As I carefully cut through the tape and cardboard, and peeled off the tissue, I was pleased to find that only 2 had broken. I was also surprised to see they had sent me 24, not 12.

I very carefully put them on the rotator inside the incubator and crossed my fingers. Hopefully on May 20th I will witness the hatching of some Button quail.

Eggs in incubator

10 thoughts on “If at first you don’t succeed…try another hen!

  1. Sometimes it takes a failure or two (or three) to get things right! But, i’m curious…why would she be infertile, Martha?

    • Yes, I can accept failure as a part of the learning process. When I was at Juilliard we were encouraged to fail as boldly as possible. It works! In regards to my incubation efforts, putting new batteries in the thermometer will help! hahaha. I’m not sure if my little hen is fertile or not. Just a guess that she’s not. She and her buddy mate regularly, so they should be fertile, right?

    • They are so tiny, it’s hard. I read on Backyard Chickens that it’s not a good idea to remove them from the incubator at all during the incubation because they chill so quickly. One site recommended the float test: putting them in 99.5 degree water. If they sink, they’re goners; if they float and wiggle they may be viable. Not sure what to do.

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