Sunday, May 15, 2011

What Are The Odds? Edited and Updated

On March 30th we began pulling ticks off of the dogs.

Usually we don't start that unpleasant task until the end of April.  

We have tried flea and tick collars.
We have tried the topical flea and tick applications such as Frontline and Biospot.
At the end of the day, we still spend about an hour pulling ticks off of the big dogs.

I had toyed with the idea of ordering guineas because they love insects, especially ticks.

They also help keep these nasty things away.
I hate snakes almost as much as I hate tick pulling!

I discovered that guineas had to be ordered in large quantities. 
 Then I got this idea to hatch them from eggs so I began researching incubators.

The more I thought about it, the better I liked the idea. 
 It would be so much fun to do it at school.  

What a great experience for my students!

The one incubator that was favorably reviewed 
over and over was the Hovabator 1588.

I plotted and schemed how I was going to
 manage that since they weren't exactly giving them away.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful partner who offered to buy it 
for me as an early birthday present.

I ordered it before she could come to 
her senses and change her mind!

No sooner had I place my order than I began perusing E-bay for egg auctions.
Who knew you could buy eggs on E-bay?

A gentleman in Alabama had an auction for 45 fertilized eggs.  
I contacted him to see if he would be doing more auctions as his 
ended before my incubator would arrive.  He told me that he
 put one up every Monday and ran it for a week.

I decided that was perfect. 

 As soon as I got my shipping confirmation
 for the incubator, I placed my bid and patiently waited until I won.
(Of course I waited patiently .... I am the queen of patience!)

I was the winning bidder and happily sent my money on it's way.
George, the seller, sent me a note telling me that he had sent 60 eggs. 
 The extras were to account for any breakage or unfertilized eggs.  

Great!  Now all I had to do was wait. 
And wait.  And wait some more.
Remember that bit about the queen of patience?  

Little did any of us know a blizzard was on it's way.

The storm hit as predicted and shut down I-80.
For the first time in my life, I was worried about my eggs.
We called the post office to see if they could track them 
farther than we were able to do on-line.
All they could tell us were that they had not been 
scanned in at North Platte, which we already knew. 

 Sure enough, they were stuck on a truck.

It was Friday and it didn't look like the eastern end 
of the state would shovel out before Monday.
We went about our life and did all of the piddley
 chores that we do on week-ends.

In the meantime, my incubator arrived and I eagerly ripped the package open.

 I have to tell you I was just a bit taken aback when  I opened up the 
box to discover it was made of styrofoam!

 (Especially since I was considering selling a kidney to
 order it until my partner volunteered to buy it for me.)

We put the egg turner in and declared ourselves ready.

 I walked down to the mailbox to get our paper early Sunday morning
 and out of habit I checked the mailbox.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  

My eggs were there even though they hadn't been scanned in at North Platte. 
 So in addition to sitting on a truck overnight in a blizzard,
 they spent the night in a metal mailbox in 31 degree weather!

Naturally I called my trusty co-teacher and we zoomed out to school.

George did a tremendous job of packaging the eggs.
Each one was wrapped with tissue and then bubble wrapped.

My co-horts carefully unwrapped each one and transferred 
them to a bed of shredded paper.
Not a single egg was broken.  
We decided to go ahead and put them in the incubator as we 
were optimistic that the ones in the middle would be okay.

We had carefully calculated the days that they would have to be incubated.
We decided to have them hatch on May 17th which would be a Tuesday.
Testing would be pretty much over and doing
 it then would ensure the kids would get to see it.

So we put them in and then set to waiting.  

(Of course, that's no problem because I'm so patient.)

On day 11 we could candle them 
to see of there was any hope of anything growing.

More waiting.  
I lied about being patient.
I'm not.  Not at all.

Finally day 11 arrived and we candled all of them 
and could see veining.  In two of them
 we could actually see the heart beating, but there 
were about a dozen that we were unsure. 

 We decided to leave them and check them later.

They were due to be taken out of the automatic turner yesterday, 
but on Friday I decided to do it earlier because I 
really didn't want to make an extra trip out to school just to do that.
 Vicki and I were actually taking a week-end off for a change.
(I know, it was a miracle!)

 It was a good thing I decided to do this,
 because one egg had already started pipping.

We grabbed three of the questionable eggs and candled them. 

Once again we just weren't absolutely sure, but we
 were pretty certain it was a bacterial mass,
 so I decided to do an eggtopsy.  

I put the egg into a ziploc (just in case it truly was rotten)
and we traipsed outside to break it open.

I was just sick when I cracked it and saw the chick. 
 We took the other two eggs back to put into the incubator.  
I wasn't going to take any chances with those two.

By the time we got to the classroom, the chick
 in the egg was peeping and chirping. 

Now I was really sick.
I was worried it was guineacide.

 I stuck it back into the incubator and fretted.

We left school and went to the Y for our dose of water torture.  
After we finished swimming, we went back to school
 and watched the first keet hatch.  

We sat for the longest time watching my "guineacide" egg. 
 I finally decided that the membrane would shrink wrap 
the keet if we left it any longer.  
You aren't supposed to peel the egg away because
 you risk ripping their delicate skin,
 but I figured that we didn't have anything to lose.  

So I bravely and delicately released the
 keet from the membrane prison.
We crossed our fingers and put it in the incubator to dry.

We finally left at midnight with three keets 
drying off in the incubator.

Of course I hadn't prepared the "nursery" because I wasn't very
optimistic about any of the eggs actually surviving their traumatic journey.

We went out and bought a tank and heater. 
There were seven keets waiting for us when we got there. 
 They are noisy little critters!

The best part was that we couldn't tell which one I had peeled out of it's shell!

We now have fourteen keets. 

 Two of them have curled toe syndrome, so I have braced their little feet. 

Hopefully that will help.
Unfortunately, they did not make it .... but the braces worked!
They died with straight feet.

I have uploaded my video of the keet hatching to Teacher Tube.

It is 23 minutes long and the real action doesn't start until about 18 minutes,
so fast forward to that part --- but it is pretty cool if I do say so myself!

What do you suppose the odds were for these eggs even hatching?!!!


Anonymous said...

How exciting for your students! We they beyond excited today when they realized they started hatching?

Sister One said...

Yes, they were very excited. It has been hard to get much accomplished today. When I read to them after lunch, the little critters chirped louder than ever. Evidently they enjoyed the story as much as the kids!

Nicki Orser: said...

I'm so glad they were ok. I liked that for the first time ever you were worried about your eggs!