We don't mind working on Mondays at the hatchery for one reason and one reason only: Mondays are the pick up days for people coming in for nineteen day old eggs (eggs that have been incubating for nineteen days) and will soon be hatching. In fact, most are already hatching. On a hot day like today, in Kalihi Kai, it was nearly 93 degrees and over the top humidity, so most of the eggs were already beginning to crack and we could hear faint peepings by ten this morning.
Over the years, lots of people for all kinds of reasons have come for hatching eggs. A large portion of these eggs are fetched by teachers from k-12 schools, for hatching in school incubator/hatchers as part of a life sciences study. But some come searching for chicken eggs ready to hatch for other, more personal reasons.
One couple came in on behalf of a duck who sat on some eggs that did not hatch, but was determined to hatch an egg, any egg. The duck managed to hatch a bunch of chicks and raised them as her own.
Here is a picture they sent of that duck with her new kids:
Another week, a couple came in with plans to help a wild hen that had adopted them and taken up a nest in their backyard. They had grown attached to the hen, realized that it was sitting on the same batch of eggs for much too long, acting distressed, even depressed. They were hoping to switch out unfertile eggs with hatching eggs. Many human friends have come to us for this same reason, always wondering if it is too far fetched to work. And it isn't.
Here is a picture of that hen and her new brood, sent in by her friends:
Today, three families dropped by to pick up eggs about to hatch.
The first ran an organic vegetable farm in the Wahiawa area. On the land, they found a hen who had built a nest but was sitting on infertile eggs. He was hoping to switch the eggs for her, to give her a brood. She was sitting on ten, so he picked up twelve. That will keep her busy.
The second family had started a life sciences project to do for their kids during a long school break. They had a built a small incubator and picked up some eggs a few weeks back, to try and incubate and hatch from the full 4-21 day cycle. That is a difficult task if you are handturning them three times a day, because opening the incubator fluctuates the temperatures sometimes too much, and in the earlier stages the eggs are sensitive. They came to pick up some eggs ready to hatch to complete their project and to keep the chicks as pets.
The third family came to pick up hatching eggs for a science project their daughter was conducting for school. They have some hatchers already set up and good homes lined up for all the chicks. They may be sending pictures in, so stay tuned.
Times are changing. The decades of big industry farming in Hawai'i are gone. And some of us can see a glimmer of hope in this, what could very well be viewed as financially disastrous by others. That glimmer involves small farms focused on sustainable practices rising to the challenge of supplying local communities with fresh and untampered with food. The glimmer is farms all over the Pacific making a go at helping their communities be less reliant on shipped in canned or frozen goods. And more glimmer: individual citizens seeing the value in keeping well their own chickens that supply them with fresh eggs, non-toxic fertilizer for their gardens, and good company.
Times are changing. And from what we hear from our customers, it is not a new change at all. It's more about recognizing what worked, before all the large scale corporations, pesticides, splicing jellyfish with jellybeans, and everything else.
And it is best said by a man in a red t-shirt who just happened to be stuck in traffic on Nimitz on his way home from work, saw our sign, and decided to drop in. He wanted to know if we still sold chicks. He was planning to set up his backyard to raise some chickens like his grandfather did for him and his cousins when they were growing up. He said that that was how he learned how to take care of something, something that was alive, and something that would help his family keep alive in return -- by supplying them all the time with fresh eggs. He said he wants to make sure his grandkids get that kind of connection. And he misses the taste of a fresh egg.

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