The Basics of Using a Hova-Bator Incubator to Hatch Your Own Chicks

hova batorWe use the Genesis 1588 Hova-Bator to incubate and hatch our chickens and ducks for our homestead.  The incubator comes with a very informative instruction manual that explains the set up and operation of the incubator.  This post will give anyone interested in purchasing an incubator (specifically the 1588 Hova-Bator) a good understanding of the basics of the process.  In 2013 we hatched one batch of chickens in the spring and one in the fall using the Hova-Bator with very good success.  The information will be a based on our experience using the incubator based on the instructions provided and the Permaculture Chicken: Incubation Handbook by Anna Hess.

Collecting Eggs

First you must start collecting your eggs.  We usually start collecting eggs on a Monday and, depending on how many chicks we hope to hatch, collect eggs until we have enough.  Seven days would be the most days I would collect eggs for.  As your eggs get older their hatch decreases.  We have a small flock so it usually takes us about 7 days to collect our eggs.  We usually try for 30 or so.  During the collection time, we store the eggs in our basement in egg cartons.  The area should be cool (55-68 degrees) and out of direct sunlight.  Avoid touching the eggs as much as possible.  Keep the eggs moving to avoid the embryo sticking to the shell.  This can be accomplished by propping one end of the egg carton up with a piece of wood and then switching the end at least once a day.

New Start for 2014

We are well into 2014 and I’m ready to get back to blogging and documenting/sharing what we are doing again.  In the fall of 2012 I took on a part time job as an adjunct professor teaching an introduction to World Geography online course.  I’ve been teaching 1-2 classes each semester including summers since then (in addition to my full time profession).  This has taken up a lot of my extra time that I was using to focus on the blog.  This might be the last semester for me.  Teaching, though rewarding, just isn’t for me.

During this time, activities on the homestead didn’t stop.  I had many things to share, just not enough time.  I have a revived feeling of excitement to start blogging again and focusing more on building our micro-business from products and services of our homestead.

The photo is a raccoon I trapped recently.  Over the winter we have lost 2 ducks and 1 chicken.  This guy showed up at the chicken coop on the wrong night.  I gave him to a friend who is a trapper.  I included the photo to symbolize how I felt at times (trapped).  I’m glad I was given the opportunity to teach, but in my heart I knew I wanted to be writing on my blog and working more on homestead related activities.

Using the Power Plucker Saves Time

power pluckerWith 2012 being the first year we raised chickens for meat, we had a huge learning curve on how to butcher our own chickens.  With the first spring flock, the butchering process was very slow.  It was taking us 30-40 minutes to pluck 1 chicken.  We raised 25 more in the fall of 2012.  This time the plucking time went much faster.  For one, we were more experienced and had learned from our mistakes.  We also had a new tool called the Power Plucker.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

 

These Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars are everywhere this time of year and they are especially fond of our fall dill and other plants in the carrot family (Apiaceae).  Check out there wiki page for more information on black swallowtails.

 

Storing Onions in Old Pantyhose

While researching on the best ways to store our harvested and cured onions, we came across many examples of people using old pantyhose as a way to contain and store onions.  The pantyhose allow for good air circulation and keep individual onions from coming into contact with one another.

storing onions in pantyhose

[Before being stored, onions should be cured in a warm, dry area for 2-3 weeks]

How to Weigh a Pig

pigs

When I started researching information on raising a few growing-finishing pigs, one of the questions I had was how long do I keep them before it’s time to slaughter and butcher.  I found that most people keep them until they are around 220-250 lbs.  Past this weight it becomes inefficient economically to put on more weight.

Chicken Coop Folk Art

Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads out there.  My wife and kids added some cool folk art to the chicken coop as a surprise for Father’s Day.  They did an awesome job!  Surprises like this are really special and I’ll be reminded of this Father’s Day everyday when I visit the coop.

  • chicken coop folk art - barn door open
  • chicken coop folk art - barn
  • chicken coop folk art - ducks
  • chicken coop folk art - hen

Little Giant 3 Gallon Plastic Poultry Waterer Review

little giant 3 gallon plastic poultry watererWe recently bought a Little Giant 3 Gallon Plastic Poultry Waterer for our ducks and chickens.  It looked like it would be a great waterer for the ducks.  It has a deep bottom  dish which is great for the ducks to dip and clean their bills in.  When I got it home and filled it up, the water just keep pouring out of the bottom hole and overflowing.  I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.

Early Garlic Harvest

This year we harvested our first garlic on the 5th of June.  This is our second season to have a garlic harvest and I couldn’t imagine our home without it.  Because of garlic’s flavor and many medicinal benefits (antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, helps prevent heart disease and cancer, etc), we include it in many of our meals.

early garlic harvest 2012

Using Pigs to Build and Improve Soil

We are using our 2 hampshire x yorkshire pigs to build and improve soil in areas around the homestead.  Pigs are great at clearing a grassy or sod area of vegetation and rooting and tilling the soil.  I’ve heard them being described as colonizer livestock, meaning they are good at coming into an area and clearing it for a clean slate or fresh start.  pasture pigs rooting

[Once we added an additional panel to the pig tractor, they immediately started grazing and rooting and had the new area cleared in a few days.]