Our homeschooling group took a field trip yesterday to a local petting zoo. Well, they call it a “zoo”, but given the animals, “farm” might be a more appropriate term. We saw the usual farmyard animals: pigs, cows, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys. There were also a variety of ponies and miniature horses, a few donkeys, and some llamas, emus and peacocks.
The other petting farm/zoo that’s nearby isn’t really that hands on – I’m honestly not sure why they bill themselves as petting, because aside from being able to feed some cattle during a hay ride, there’s really not much interaction going on. But the one we went to yesterday is very hands on. If the animal was near enough to touch and didn’t run off, we were welcome to pet them, feed them, and interact with them in various other ways.
It was really fun, for both the kids and the adults (though I felt really bad for a small goat that kept getting shoved away by the bigger goats. My kids wanted to pet the little goat, but he just wanted food!). Seeing the various animals was interesting, and it brought up lots of questions for my kids, things like why were the goats in with the cows. There were lots of observations made, such as that the emu felt like a feather duster, or the pig was stiff and bristly, the calf’s fur/hair was softer than that of the full grown cow. I noted that one particular donkey looked really pissed off (of course, I made that observation to myself!).
At the end of the day, the kids were given various eggs to bring home. These eggs had just been collected that morning, which means there’s chance that they will hatch into their various feathered options. My kids brought home some regular chicken eggs, some game chicken eggs, a couple of goose eggs, and one egg that may be a duck egg, although we’re not entirely sure yet.
Here was my dilemma: I hadn’t gone on this field trip intending to bring home souvenirs of that sort. But, I didn’t want to disappoint my kids, either. So I had to come home and look up information on how to build/make an incubator for the eggs. Do you know how many ways there are to build an incubator? Oh my gosh, I had no idea until yesterday! I looked, and read, and watched, and read some more and watched some more. I saw do this, don’t do that, use this, use that, make sure you have this, make sure you don’t have that. It was enough to make me crazy, and I had to walk away.
In the end, we found a solution. My oldest got a reptile environment that included a 10 gallon aquarium. The kids had been keeping a variety of lizards in them, and what we did was let the lizards go for the moment. We put the eggs in the container (on the bed of coconut fibers, put in a bowl with some water and a sponge (this is apparently for humidity), and put the heat lamp from the lizards over the whole deal. We’re keeping it inside until they hatch, partly for the consistent temperature/weather in the house (as I type this post, I have a thunderstorm rolling in outside), and partly because living in the country, we have a huge assortment of predators that would love to make off with our eggs.
We’ve also made the decision that even if these eggs don’t hatch, in a few weeks/months, we’ll get some chicks and start from there. We’ve considered the idea of raising chickens before, so it seems like maybe this was the universe’s way of telling us to get off our butts and do it already.
I’ll post some egg photos later and keep you posted on our progress (assuming there is any, of course!).