The process is pretty simple. The eggs are placed in the incubator (this is one of four machines):
A week before hatching we transfer them to the aptly named hatching machines (no moving parts, water to soften the membrane to make it easier for the chick to get out of the shell):
They hatch in here, and when you open the door on a Tuesday morning at 11am you find this:
Each tray has between 100-200 day old pheasants:
Here's a tray with the lid off, with pheasant chicks ready to be counted:
And helpers counting:
And here they are in their transport boxes, waiting to be taken up to the rearing field and cared for under a light in a warm shed:
There are variations in color sometimes too, but they're all equally cute:
We always give the latecomers a hand if they need it. The foot gives us the first clue they're "stuck":
So we peel off the top of the shell for them:
and let them kick it free and dry off, and rest.
It's very tiring being born.
It's also tiring on us. We just finished chores including dog and horses, checking traps (still no crows) and repairing broody coops ready for chickens to hatch next week. It's past 9pm. I'm going to have some dinner (that is if drinking a glass of wine in the shower counts as dinner) and get to bed. I'm due to meet Ted the woodsman tomorrow morning at 7am to get the fencing done at Milkweed Farm. I will be rubbing sleep out of my eyes and Ted will have already done 3 hours work by then.
I'm apprenticing myself to Ted so I can learn a bit more about fencing. I'll post the least embarassing photos, the ones where I'm not falling over or accidentally stapling my shirt between the netting and fence stake. I managed to burn all the brush that Nigel left from laying the hedge in one hard day, and my shoulder is still angry at me for it. We're using a tractor-mounted post rammer tomorrow. Thank god for machinery.
Hatching is every Tuesday for the next few months. Next week we're hatching partridge chicks. Same process, smaller chick. And in between there will be more chicken chicks hatching out of the incubators at home. I hope there's enough wine and hot showers to keep me going.