Nature vs. Nurture


We will spare you the hour-by-hour details of our snow storm that turned into an ice storm except to say, we lost electricity.  This would not be a huge deal if it wasn’t for the fact that we are incubating those ten chicken eggs in an electric incubator. Crud.

The power went off at 5 pm on Saturday evening and when we called our local electric board to report the outage, the lines were busy, the phone messaging was in a loop, and it took several tries before we were able to report. So many folks are without electricity with the ice snapping branches and trees and power lines all over the valley.

We fussed. This is only the second time we’ve lost electricity since being in our home on Cedar Street and the first time was only for about 20 minutes. We got our our “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens” by Gail Damerow and studied every word of the section on power outages. She advises to open the incubator and let the eggs cool and then, when the power goes back on, put the lid back on and start things up again.  Seems attempting to keep everything warm will actually cause more problems by keeping oxygen from getting to the eggs and messing with the humidity.  According to Ms. Damerow, if the power is out less than 12 hours, it shouldn’t affect the hatch significantly–especially in the early stages of development.  She says that chicken eggs (and probably other bird eggs) are designed so that they go dormant when they get cool. While this was hard for us to believe, we decided to follow orders.


Since we had the lid off the eggs anyway, we decided to candle them–even though we may not be able to really see anything until about 7 days.  We figured if we were going to lose them all to Mother Nature and the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), we might as well see if any were fertile, viable and developing. Besides, it was dark anyway and that should make candling easier!

We weren’t able to see much in the dark-shelled eggs, but in the lighter-shelled ones, we could see the veins and tiny embryo indicating that the eggs were fertile and developing normally.  This was exciting and nerve-wracking as we now knew that at that point, they were viable. Whatever happened with the temperature could definitely affect that.

As the hours passed and the eggs got cooler, we talked ourselves through the cranky frustration and accepted the fact that we may very well have to start over when all was said and done. At 1:15 am–after being off for just over 8 hours, the electricity came back on. We crossed our fingers, put the lid back on the incubator, turned it on and went to bed. We will have to wait a few days before we candle the eggs again and see if they are still developing, or they were victims of the storm of February 2014. Now we are just hoping our power woes are over.


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