Tag Archive | Incubating with Candles


Church cook out plans were cancelled for Monday due to the impending tropical depression Lee that was scheduled to bring us 5 inches of rain and wind gusts of up to 25 miles per hour. So instead of cooking out we started the day with just lazing around the house listening to the rain. But it rained and rained and then poured and poured. Soon the wind picked up and was sure looking like it was higher than 25 miles per hour. The wind intensity just kept picking up and was getting dangerous. Mid-afternoon we heard a big bang which we recognized as a tree falling.  A couple of us went in the back yard looking for what had fallen but the wind and rain drove us back inside.  We did see that Snowy, the llama, was trucking it from the woods in the pasture to the barn in the storm.  The llamas don’t mind lying in the woods in the rain but obviously something had spooked him.

Later I walked by the front den window and thought around that tree by the driveway sure is getting bushy.  But I was busy ….  Turns out that tree by the driveway had fallen into the edge of the driveway missing the van by a few feet.  I was seeing the top of the tree!

We ate a leisurely supper of hot dogs grilled on an indoor grill.  The power had flickered off and on several times but it had come back within about five minutes each time.  We were praying the power would stay on but were surprised it hadn’t been lost yet.  About 7:30 the power went off and we all just sat around the table silently praying it would come back on.  It didn’t. 🙁  So within 10 minutes we were all in the basement bailing and hauling water from the sump pump drain well.  Sump pumps work well to keep basements dry but not when the power goes out.  Our pump had been pumping all day long.  Now we had to get the water out ourselves.

At the peak of the rain it took two people bailing and three children hauling 5 gallons of water up the stairs and out the garage door.  Running as well as they could.  By 9:00 PM the kids were teasing, “Now should we call the pastor?”  See last thing he had said Sunday was call if anyone needed help due to the impending storm.  But honestly it was too dangerous to have anyone out driving in that weather.  Also turns out that they couldn’t have gotten here because so many trees were down on our road and all the main roads.  We finally got to a point where one person could bail and then one person would haul a couple of buckets then we would swap out.  That allowed about a ten to fifteen minute break between haulings for a chance to catch your breath.

Around 11:00 PM the rain slowed enough so that there was a longer break.  One or two could keep up with the water bailing and hauling.  Those that needed to go to work the next day went to bed ready to relieve those up if needed.  Those of us who would be home kept the water at bay.  Bailing continued until my husband came home the next morning with a rented generator from Home Depot.  That was around 9:30 AM.  Our power was restored at 12:40 PM which was nice since some are still without power. 🙁

I had an extra concern throughout the night beyond water and trees.  We were incubating eggs for some friends.  The eggs were due to hatch on Wednesday but the storm was Monday.  When the power went out the incubator quickly started to loose temperature.  Mr. IT has a battery backup for his computer which we were able to plug the incubator up to.  So the incubator is moved to the Battery backup unit and plugged up.  The readout says 77 minutes.  That is all the time it will run the incubator.  Better than nothing.  It actually seemed that the backup lasted much longer than 77 minutes.  At least it lasted until we weren’t all running a hundred miles an hour.  But even the battery backup died.  🙁  Now what?  I wrapped the incubator up with towels and blankets.  Our remote temperature readout showed the temperature dropping steadily.  Eggs should stay between 99 degrees and 100 degrees and they are very sensitive to cold and heat.  The eggs got below 95 degrees and I knew I would have to do something else.

My idea was to use tea light candles to keep the eggs warm.  The incubator the eggs were in was too small for a candle to burn in it.  So I moved the eggs to a larger homemade Styrofoam ice chest incubator.  It was taller and would not be as expensive to lose if the candle damaged it.  So began the experiment of incubating with candles.  Shortly after I put the eggs in the homemade incubator I heard a chirp.  🙂  Wow, at least one was still alive even though they were 91 degrees by this point.  There were no pips, but you can hear chicks chirp once they break through the air sac in preparation for hatching.  One candle raised the temperature but very slowly.  Too slowly.  So I had to add another.  Chicks breathe through the eggshell and candles use oxygen also.  Once the candle went out from an apparent lack of oxygen.  So I had to adjust and keep the lid vented enough to allow oxygen and yet not too much to let all the heat out.  I don’t recommend incubating eggs for 21 days with candles!  It takes too much attention.  It was light candles, vent, blow out candles, relight candles, replace burnt out candles, add humidity, etc.  the whole time.  Wouldn’t have worked but for the fact that I had to be up all night anyway to bail and haul water.  All through the night though that one chick would chirp at me.  Chirping because it was cold, chirping because it was too hot, chirp, chirp, chirp.  Helped keep me awake because honestly if I sat down I would have dozed off right away.  At least I knew there was one chick alive and so I wasn’t wasting my time. 🙂  But the temperature fluctuated from 90 degrees to 104 degrees.

When my husband got home the next morning with the generator I moved the eggs back to the good incubator and to the garage to plug it up.  It took a little while for the cold incubator to begin to maintain a normal temperature.  But even then the chick still chirped away.  Once the power was back on, the incubator was moved back to its normal place with less flucuation with exterior temperature.  Late in the afternoon on Tuesday the chirping chick pipped.  🙂  By Wednesday morning he hatched.  A big yellow Araucana chick.  Our friends were hoping for a white chick to replace another lost white chicken.  Yellow chicks usually turn out to be white chickens.  But surprise another chick hatches.  That makes two that survived!

By Thursday morning five total chicks had hatched out of a possible 10.  These eggs were green and hard to candle due to the dark shell.  I had suspected there were two duds or infertile eggs from the beginning but I wasn’t sure.  Since the temperature, humidity and moving could all affect hatching I thought we would have lost some if not all the chicks.  But I checked the non-hatching eggs and all five non-hatching eggs were duds. 🙂  They look just like a regular egg insides with no development.  So we succeeded in not losing a single chick. 🙂

So meet Lee:


I’m afraid he will be a loud mouth rooster.  But he did well keeping me paying attention to a seemingly lost cause.

All five chicks are healthy and are doing well.  Two have slightly curled toes which could be genetic or from the incubator temperature fluctuations but we know how to fix that. 🙂

We did lose 15 trees and several are on the fences. We lost the tree beside the driveway which is a large dogwood.  We called that the hummingbird tree.  It has every year contained hummingbird nests and the pair usually hatch out two clutches a summer.  Needless to say the hummingbirds aren’t happy.  Nor are we.  The hummingbirds come on the porch and just fuss and fuss like they think we can come fix it.  It does work for refilling the hummingbird feeder but the tree is a different matter.

I lost my computer due it’s own issues combined with a lack of power.  Finally this morning it did turn on again but not sure for how long.

The van developed issues due to trying to power the sump pump through a large inverter or because we used the headlights to light up the garage so long.  The low beam headlights don’t work but the high beam does.  ???  (Update:  Both low beam bulbs blew at the same time.  Even the repair shop was surprised for two to blow at the same time.)

Our area had 12.38 inches of rain officially and up to 50 mile per hour winds so we are glad to see tropical depression Lee go away.  Lee, the chick, will go to his home tonight along with all his siblings.