After Sunday morning's tragic discovery, my husband prodded me to look into incubating the fertile eggs I hadn't gotten around to cleaning and refrigerating. I was getting about eight eggs per day out of my flock, and collected seven Sunday morning from the day before as I was weeping about my loss.
A quick look on Craigslist confirmed no 'bators for sale, and a flip through my hatchery catalog made me just about croak (no, we won't be spending $155+ on an incubator!). At my husband's suggestion I called our Grange Master, a retired guy who raises Minorcas and banties for show. Yes, he had an incubator I could borrow, but if I could wait a couple of days for his current hatch to move, he'd be happy to hatch some of mine with his next batch!
So, tonight I will be taking 30 of my cleanest, most normal-looking eggs over to his house and will learn how to set them up in the incubator, and in two weeks I'll go back and he'll teach me how to candle so we can remove any infertile ones before they rot (or worse, explode!). In approximately 21 days from today I will hopefully hear the peeps of my next flock!
It's not all peachy, though...this morning I caught the brazen coyote - in broad daylight - in the middle of our paddock, while our dog Maggie was outside. Thinking back, that's the second time I've seen a coyote on our property in early morning, and a few weeks ago I and a neighbor heard multiple coyotes yipping freakishly like they do - around 7 a.m., not in the evening when we normally hear them. I don't know what's up with that, as I've always thought coyotes were most active at dawn and dusk, not in broad daylight. Regardless, this guy was less than 200 feet from the house, right smack in the middle of our open paddock, heading for the barn, perhaps to retrieve the stiff bodies of Brewster and the red hen that he left behind. I yelled and stomped and waved my arms and he ran, but paused a moment to contemplate stalking Mr. Pheasant, who was innocently strutting around by the north fence. Instead, after I yelled again, he high-tailed it for the back fence, where Annabel saw him and joined the chase. I have no doubt he'll be back, though. Our cat, Tom, may have seen the last of his days outside, I'm not sure. I AM sure that I'll finally stop rolling my eyes and give into my husband's persistant offers to teach me how to shoot a gun. If I'd had one today, you can bet I'd have fired a shot (and if Paul had been home, it would have been all over for sure).
My next flock of chickens will likely not ever know the joy of free-ranging with bold, unafraid coyotes on the prowl. We'll do what we can to keep them safe, and we have a little time to figure out our plan before they're here and old enough to live outside. Until then, we'll be watching for that coyote.
Yeah, you'd better run.