Last Thursday night, the over-wintering team at the Grange Farm School came together for a delicious family dinner. It sometimes can feel like a group therapy session when we are all finally able to sit around the table and talk and laugh after a long week. While it was not exactly a fancy candle lit dinner, we all had candling on our minds.
For the past 10 days we have been incubating 75 eggs laid by our heritage Buckeye hens. Our living room has been constantly abuzz as the machine keeps a temperature of 100 degrees with 40-50% humidity. Every four hours you will hear a loud thud as the machine rotates the eggs, ensuring that the outer membrane doesn’t stick if left in one position for too long.
An egg only takes 21 days to hatch, which is pretty incredible when you think about how humans take 9 months. By day 6, it already starts to look like a chick as the beak begins to develop. On day 11 tail feathers begin to grow. After 8-10 days, you should be able to see veins and a developing embryo inside the egg if you hold a light up to it. Check out this beautiful animation of the process here. Candling is an incredible experience, being able to see life forming with just a dark room and a small flashlight. When no embryo is developing, the egg shines through like a bright constellation.
The reason we check after 10 days is because the incubator is also the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. That is why it is recommended to use clean eggs for incubation and take out the eggs that aren’t growing a chick. If you leave them in, they could amass too much bacteria and explode, which would be a terrible mess to clean up. We look forward to meeting our newest additions to the Grange Farm School family!