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Tales from a Game Bird Farm - The Time Bomb

  • Blog Post by: Jeff Hughes
  • October 14, 2009 - 9:59 AM

As I am, I know you’re all anxious for hunting season!  During this time, I like to reflect on where things all begin.  It brings me back to when our farm operated as a hatchery and events that still make me smile.  Read on for some great humor, where it all begins....
The year is 1975, and we had a new employee that I was breaking in.  It was a Friday afternoon and back in these days Friday afternoon was transfer day.  Let me explain: In 1975 during the spring we hatched game birds at Wild Wings Hunt Club (a lot of game birds) primarily ring neck pheasants and mallard ducks.  On transfer day we had to take all of the eggs that were due to hatch out of the incubator and place them in covered hatching trays in the hatching machine.  We did this on Friday because all of the eggs were set to hatch on Monday our shipping day.  The reason that all of the eggs were transferred is because the hatching process is a messy ordeal with chick fluff, egg debris, and egg jelly all over the place.  So the hatchers had to be cleaned and disinfected every week after each hatch.  Now on transfer day, the eggs had been in the incubator turning and warming at a comfortable 99 1/2 degrees for about three weeks; sort of slow cooker, if you will.  Before the eggs went into the incubator, they were all cleaned and disinfected.  Now occasionally a cracked egg or an egg that had sucked in some bacteria would get put into the incubator.  When a cracked egg or contaminated egg gets into an incubator you end up with a very sensitive little time bomb waiting for the slightest movement to go off.

On this particular day Gary (he hadn’t earned his nickname yet) and I were transferring eggs into the hatching machine.  Gary was going on talking about something that had to do with chicks and how cool it was to see young birds, etc.  I mentioned to the young farm boy that he might want to keep his mouth shut and not talk too much during the transferring procedure.  I further explained to him about the potential ticking time bombs we were handling.  He did not heed my warning and continued on in his idle chatter.  I think you know where this is going!  Not five minutes after the warning did we have an egg explode it sounded like a 22 rifle had been fired in the hatchery!  The stench from the exploded duck egg was mortifying, and as I looked up I could see the young boy gagging and running for the door.  You guessed it most of the gelatinous goo, from the exploded egg, had gone right into his mouth.  After losing his lunch outside,  the transferring procedure continued in a reverent silence!  Using this experience as a teaching tool transfer days remained silent from this day forward.  You can’t put a price tag on this kind of fun!  Until we see you again we remain.  Yours for better hunting!  Jeff Hughes

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