As a child who was raised in the city, I often fantasize about what it is like to grow up in the country. Very City Mouse, Country Mouse stuff. Especially having returned to my country of origin and learning of the simpler life my parents led, harvesting tropical fruit from their own orchard trees and skinning chickens for dinner. Okay the latter part would have had me calling it quits, but the fantasy of living off the land and raising something all your own persists.
That is why when I saw/heard of Nanny McCluckins from Gurleen of @pinktealatte; who heard their advert on the radio, and called in to order her own hatching experience shortly there after; I knew I had to sign up too.
You are basically given eggs that could potentially hatch and the instructions on how to care for them in an incubator. And then if/when they do hatch, how to nurture for them out of shell for 1-2 weeks, depending on the fowl. Advertised as a classroom learning experience, this was more like a limited edition hobby for us.
You sign up for the experience and are given a pickup and return date. On top of the price below, they require a deposit of $200, should you return any of their equipment soiled or damaged.
Each kit comes with an easy to assemble incubator. With a little bit of water, the eggs are given moisture and heat, as they slowly rotate. The goal is to have the plastic lid show signs of condensation, adding about a tablespoon of water or so, into the bottom dish daily. There are certain days where you can hold a candle against the egg and watch the life that is growing within. We dared not do this, as Gurleen has mentioned doing so and dropping an egg by mistake, when she did it. I did want to take on that risk, nor have it hang over my head.
After 3-4 weeks of watering your eggs, it is time to go into lockdown. You remove the incubator’s separators, and keep the eggs in place by laying a damp cloth at the bottom. Then you wait. The eggs that can hatch, will. The rest are either not fertilized or the chicks didn’t make it. A sad reality of the hatching business. You can check the viability of the unhatched eggs with a submersion in water test, but the thought of finding out which were dead on arrival broke my heart. So, the eggs that didn’t catch were simply placed back into the carton they came with, and given back to the Nanny McCluckins people at the end of our experience term.
As for the experience itself, you can choose between hatching chickens, ducks, or quail. With chickens being the least expensive at $165, then ducks at $225, and finally quails closer to $300. Seeing as Gurleen already did chickens yielding 3 hatchlings, we decided to try our hands at ducks.
Little did we know, we would be one of the most luckiest in terms of how many of our ducklings hatched. We were given 8 eggs and out of the 8 only 2 hatched, a yellow duckling we named Winnie (because she was first and therefore the winner), and the second Bruno, who hatched 2 days after Winnie. Bruno was a smaller black duck, who followed the stronger and bolder Winnie around. Originally, she would peck at him and shoo him away, but eventually took a liking to him, protecting him, and searching for him, if we removed one from the other.
When our two weeks with the ducks were up and we were due to return our equipment, we met a few of the other families who signed up for the experience as well. Two of which had none of their eggs hatch, and one other with only one yellow duckling. Whereas we felt defeated with only our twosome originally, we now felt like we got our monies worth and the most out of the experience.
Two weeks is a long time to have live ducklings, whereas you only get the chicks for 1. This allowed for more play time, and for us to host visitors to meet and interact with the ducklings. Although they were a handful given how much they pooped. They ate and drank nonstop and what goes in must come out. Cleaning was easiest if you dumped everything out and built anew with the sawdust and wood chips you are given along with a heating apparatus and drinking water bottle. All within a plastic branded tote they called home.
I couldn’t smell them all that much. But for those who are more smell sensitive, I was told that their scent was overwhelming if not cleaned out regularly. Thankfully, we had just the right amount of carefully rationed bedding and more than enough food for two. I would have liked more ducks to have hatched, but also feel like it would be a lot more work that we wouldn’t necessarily enjoy. Not to mention all their tiny incessant chirping. Cute on the onset, but tiresome on repeat.
In short, this was a one-of-a-kind experience I highly recommend. Fun for anyone who loves baby animals. And a great way to test children on their ability to nurture and take care of a pet. Pet training wheels, as it were.
Nanny McCluckins Chick Hatching Experiences