It turns out that my next door neighbors had acquired an incubator from a friend of theirs, and had never used it. I went over one night and the husband and I dug it out and fired it up and all seemed to be in order. I brought it home and went about calibrating the thermostat and working out how to get the humidity high enough, which is quite a chore here; the wind blows a lot here, which makes for a very dry climate during the winter. Anyway, the incubator looks like some sort of kit built from extension service plans (similar concept to the wooden one here), and appears to be as much as 20-30 years old; I didn't have high hopes, but I persevered, and sure enough, we were able to get the temperature and humidity in the correct ranges for incubating eggs.
|45 eggs ready to go into the incubator|
|Kids loading eggs into the incubator|
My wife and sister will pay the kids for their time hatching out their eggs, and we'll advertise the resulting chicks on craigslist. I'm hoping they are successful. They've got $10 into the operation so far, and the local hatchery sells chicks for $2.75 for day old hens plus $0.05 per day. I figure they can undercut his price and still come out with a decent profit, even if they only hatch out half of their eggs. I think the best part of it is that they'll have run a successful business venture, funded with their own capital, from start to finish. Before they're teenagers. If they're anything like their mother, with this sort of experience under their belts this early, they could be running successful businesses by their mid-teens.