On May 20, 2012, we placed our first batch of eggs in our shiny new Hovabator 1588 (read our pre-hatch review on Friday!). These are the offspring of Frank and seven members of our flock (Broody & Henrietta were keeping Elliot company in the small tractor).
For the last two weeks, the incubator has been humming away in a quiet corner of our living room, as we anxiously await the arrival of our small, feathered friends. And with their arrival looming, I finally decided that it was time to get ready.
So how do you get ready for a second year of chicks? I started by finding all three of our brooding boxes (basement, chicken coop, backyard) and cleaning them out with a bleach and water mixture that I thoroughly rinsed out before drying. While I was doing this, I also cleaned our feeders and waterers in the same solution since they’d been doing double duty among our outdoor pens, as we transitioned into larger drip systems. This protects the chicks from any bacteria that might have still been lingering around from last year’s hatch (even though we cleaned after that, as well).
Finally, I ran all of our dishes and smaller devices through the dishwasher, ensuring that they are sanitized and ready for a new batch of chicks. I also picked up a few things from our local hardware store: paper towels (for those first few days on spindly legs), pine shavings, and a 50 lb. bag of Nutreena Natural Chick Starter Grower (unmedicated). I also picked up an extra bulb for our heat lamps since I’ll be out of town for three days during their earliest stages of development, and I don’t want Jason to have to worry about running out since his schedule has been crazy lately. I also double-checked that we still had plenty of chick-sized grit, and I’ve left myself a note that we still need marbles for the waterers.
After purchasing the feed, I realized that our feed storage system was completely tied up with the layer flock, and I returned to the store for two bins that could adequately house the chick feed (neatly and out of the way since Abby has a real love of chicken feed).
Finally, I cleaned out all of our vegetable growing supplies from the back bedroom, dusted, vacuumed and collected all of the necessary chicken gear. We’re anticipating a complete hatch by late Sunday night, by which time I’ll have the lamps on, the bins prepared, and the room ready for the 2012 brooding season.
As a final note, the Texas Agricultural Extension produced a fantastic manual called “Incubating and Hatching Eggs” that came with a great incubator checklist which has allowed us to monitor just how reliable our incubator has been during the last two weeks. If you are just starting to raise chicks, I can’t recommend this source enough! The download is free and the appendices are fantastic and totally fulfilled my nerdy-science need for more information!