For those of you that are curious, the electric bill last month was $9.47. Way to go, solar! About $8 of that is administrative fees and taxes, the remainder is from the couple of days before they installed the new meter that credits us with surplus power. After all the math, it seems like it will pay for itself in about 5 years. However my husband and myself are both essentially freelance so the investment in the piece of mind that we have (basically) one less bill to pay every month is worth even more to us.
We had an 80% hatch rate for this last batch of quail. This seems a little low for eggs that didn't have to travel but still very much acceptable. There comes a hard time in nearly every hatch when a quail or two has started pipping out of the shell and for whatever reason gets stuck and doesn't progress. The general rule is to not help the quail, that hatching is a test of fitness and for the sake of future generations you only want to breed the best and healthiest birds. Often birds you help out will be weak or have other problems and die anyway. Every once in awhile though you get a bird that is so close, really seems determined and peeps away at you from half inside the shell as if to beg you for just a tiny bit of help. Honestly from time to time I help one of these birds, I tell myself I really shouldn't, but I can't just let it suffer. An important part of responsible animal husbandry is to not be such a softy, that you really aren't doing the breed as a whole any favors by helping out individuals in this situation. My solution for this is that if there is one that I've helped, to band it and make sure it doesn't get used for breeding.
It takes about 4 to weigh as much as a cherry tomato. :) On to the pics!