I've been doing this for a lot of years now and look forward to every April when the Mountain Quail start laying.I have quite a list of people who pay me in advance for their eggs throughout the winter.When the birds are just beginning to lay it's one here,two there for a week or so until they all get rolling.All of those I put in my own incubator and do a fertility check around the first 5 days or so. As long as everything looks good and they're all fertile,then I'll start to send orders out. They always have been for me. I keep a decent ratio of males to hens in the pens. So then,in the order in which people pay me,I go down the list and send them out. I've been packing my eggs over the last few seasons in mostly batches of 10. I bought some of the clear plastic quail egg cartons which hold 10 eggs.I pad the bottom of where each egg goes with tissues folded up and cut to fit snug,but not too snug.I place the 10 eggs in,and on top of that i'll fill in any gaps with cotton and / or tissue.I then fold up a whole tissue and place it over the top,close the lid,then tape it shut. After that,I wrap a piece of the "big" bubble wrap around the carton and tape it. I ship in the medium sized Priority Mail box. I put about 3" of either shredded paper or packing peanuts in the bottom.On top of that,a piece of newspaper,then right in the center of the box go the eggs. Then all around the eggs go more peanuts or shredded paper,On top of that,another piece of newspaper,then peanuts or shredded paper all the way to the top of the box. That keeps the eggs suspended right in the center of the box,not laying on the bottom,against a side,or up against the top. I have good results that way. I set a batch of eggs each week in my incubator and candle to make sure fertility is still good as I'm sending out peoples' orders. Here's where it gets difficult.... I have quite a few people who have good results with my eggs,but you wouldn't believe the adventures that I've gone through with some of them. I deal with a lot of idiots and nuts.There are one hell of a lot of them in this business or hobby ! Here's a good example. Last year a guy from Michigan called me in the spring He was interested in Mountain and Mearns eggs. I had a funny feeling,a strange intuition about this guy. He sounded plenty smart enough,but something wasn't right. He asked me a lot of questions about the birds because he never had these two types before.I'm always glad to help about anybody out when they buy from me.Anyway,he sent me the money for 10 Mountain and 10 Mearns eggs. When the Mountains were ready,I let him know,and sent them.He called when they arrived and questioned me some more about everything.A real intense,high strung guy. He told me about his super expensive deluxe model incubator,an XD 53 - 00A model,such and such and all of it's features with the automatic humidity,and the thermometer that reads accurate to the thousandth of a degree. He asked me again about my humidity readings. I told him that I don't know what they are.I explained my method that's been a proven winner for me for quite a while. I incubate mine in a GQF Sportsman cabinet incubator for the first 22 days. I have the moisture pan on the top full,but no extra wick pads. During the last 3 days I put them in GQF circulated air Hova Bators with very little moisture.I use a plastic yogurt container,cut down to about 2" high. I hog ring a piece of hardware cloth to the top so the chicks don't jump in and drown.It's only about 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter,which is plenty of surface area of evaporation for the right amount of humidity. I like close to a dry hatch for all of my quail. I don't fill the moisture rings on the bottom,and I have a glass,mercury stick thermometer at about 99 - 100 degrees. So he started to question me.He went on to say that the book says to have this much moisture,and a wet bulb reading of that much,and on the 22nd day,it has to be this much and so on...... I again told him what I do and that it works really well,but to do what he wanted to do.He started arguing with me about what the manual and the book said again. So,I thought that it was the end of that and I'd send his Mearns eggs in a couple of weeks. Boy,was I wrong !! About 4 or 5 days later he called me again. Really upset and kind of nervous acting. He said that he candled his eggs. Out of the 10 eggs,he saw veins in so many,I don't remember exactly,and described all of the eggs to me.He questioned me all over again. 5 days later,the same thing. He candled and about 6 were developing and 1 had a blood ring,and a couple had stopped developing.. He started to question me again and wanted to know how mine were doing. I told him around 100%.It really bothered him I could tell. Every 5 days or so until he stopped turning on the 22nd day I went through this. In the meantime I sent his Mearns eggs.He had to give me the progress report on those every 5 days too. This was driving me nuts but I tried to keep my composure. So on the 22nd day on the Mountains he was watching those eggs like a hawk. I don't think that he even slept all night for 3 nights. He had to call me and e mail me to tell me that he had 2 pip,then later another 2,then another 1.... He couldn't stand it.He didn't see them wiggle,and couldn't hear a peep,so he opened up the incubator and picked up the eggs,felt and listened,then called me of course..I told him that he shouldn't disturb them at that stage at all. He couldn't help himself. On the 25th day,hatch day,he was climbing the walls. He called me at least 3 times. They didn't hatch. By that night he couldn't take it anymore. He was so impatient,that he took surgical scissors and cut all around the air cells on the 5 or so that he didn't kill already. He helped them all out of the shell prematurely. Their yolk sacks hadn't fully absorbed into their bodies yet.They had rough navels.Premature birds. That means the temperature was too low. Probably the moisture too high too. He just couldn't leave them alone ! I had to hear all about that,and meanwhile,all about the Mearns every 5 days too still.Same thing when those were in lockdown.He ended up with about 2 out of 10,and of course everything was my fault. I thought that I was finally rid of him,but a week later I looked at my e mails. There was one from him, First sentence was,"Okay,level with me man,your birds are suffering from malnutrition and infertility issues." He went on to say that I don't know what I'm talking about and that I have zero people skills,and all kinds of foolish nonsense like that ! By then I was boiling !!!! I sent him an e mail right back and went right up one side of him and down the other. I told him what a psychotic nutjob that he is,how I knew that there was something wrong with him from the start,and that a grown man doesn't act like that unless there's something drastically wrong ! I went on for a while telling him everything that's wrong with him and everything he did wrong after I did nothing but help him from day one. Didn't faze him one bit. He sent me an e mail back,calling me every name in the book and that I owe him eggs,and all this and that..... He sent me e mails every day for weeks,calling me a dumb Irishman,a dumb fisherman from Maine,and begging me for eggs,pestering the living shit out of me !! I decided to use a little reverse psychology on the mental case. I sent him an e mail right back and said something like,"Okay,you got me." "Good one." "I'm bein' Punk'd here,right ? !" He came back,thinking that I was stupid to think such a thing,and said yes and that he was only kidding around !! I rolled with it. He said that he got rid of the fancy incubator and got a new one.He blamed it all on his incubator instead of me,all of a sudden.
Just to get this goddamn nut off of my case,I sent him another 10 eggs. To this day he acts like we're buddy-buddy.I hear from him once in a while,still asking me how to do this and do that... He had a little better hatch the second time with the Mearns. Now he's got his own site,offering professional advice from a licensed breeder !!!!!! He's advertising Mearns and Mountain eggs and started chicks. Big prices,twice the cost of mine !!! He has 2 pair of Mearns to supply all of these and 4 Mountains of which he sent me a video of the other day,asking me how to sex them. It was a bit difficult to see,but to me ,it looked like at least 3 males out of the 4.
So folks,the moral of the story is,"Think twice before getting into the hatching egg business " I have many more stories for upcoming posts about the characters on my "bird-shit list"
I'm Scott O'Brien, proprietor of Mainely Quail. I've been raising quail for 20+ years and have lots of stories. I tell it like it is, and don't hold back.