Well, I've lived through the quail incubation adventure to write about it! Just cleaned up the garage from the mess of five cages and am breathing easy. So let's see if I can tell the story....
It all began with the daydreams of a little girl as she gazed out the window at passing farms on childhood road trips. Rolling hills, grazing animals, sunshine, and freedom. Stacks of hay, frolicking horses, down to earth---earthly dreams. Life marches on, girl becomes teen, rebellious yet animal rights activist teen, vegetarian days, ideals and idiocies. God-shaped void leads girl to finding God...well, God getting the girl to come to her senses and see he had been there all along. God leads girl to church where she finds guy. What does this have to do with raising quail? Nothing really--but it's in the animal theme---a rabbit trail. So girl marries guy, girl wants land and farm, guy doesn't. They settle in the suburbs but girls dream is still there. The dream is aided by the fact that girl and guy have multiplied and now don six hefty healthy sons---all quite capable of both working and loving said farm dream. Alas, girl and guy have no plans for moving as they await there home's value superseding the home's debt. And so girl get's quail.
Girl first adapts a "salad table" she built and didn't use into a cage. She then fills it with bedding and food and water and drives to the country flea market to pick up some quail. That was an adventure in and of itself. She excitedly drives home with said creatures and pops them in her improvised cage. It works! And then after weeks of awaiting the Spring, the quail begin to lay eggs! What fun! And then another small dream develops, how about buying an incubator and raising quail babies! The educational fascinational qualities of this idea were overwhelming to girl! And then one night she finds one at the right price and just like that, she was in Cumming picking it up. (and 8 bantam chicken eggs that eventually would hatch out 3 chickens, which would eventually be re-homed after said girl was too tired to build another coop!)
Seventeen days of faithful egg turning 3 times a day let to squeals of delight and surprise on the part of the girl. She didn't think those eggs would hatch anything since she hadn't seen her rooster being interested in the girls in a while. Because of this, she kept putting more and more in. So for the next two weeks she had little tiny, tiny birds hatching out of even tinier eggs. It was a zoo. Which means a bit crazy.
Girl finds that extremely small micro farm was revealing that farm life was a lot harder in real life than in day dreams. She kept them under lights, with food and water changed faithfully twice a day. The big box kept expanding as they grew so quickly. (the box had been partioned off in the beginning when they were so very tiny)
Eventually they were too big to stay in there. The original 20 dollar rabbit hutch cage was employed to hold some, and all the moving around caused quail to be stressed, and girl really realized farm life isn't all it's chalked up to be. Girl found a quail pecked to death in the back of the cage, and that wasn't the only time it happened. Finally girl began to identify the boys who would become dinner for a friend, added those to the original brooding box until she thought she had them all. And now girl is tired of telling the story like this. So hello!, girl is me.
Those quail, when they took their dust baths that so delighted them, managed to waft into the air and onto everything in the garage, a very fine layer of dirt. Dirt dust. I just finished vacuuming and sweeping, closing down the extra three cages that were employed during the raising young quail adventure/fiasco. It really wasn't that hard, but I'm glad I don't have to change out food and water twice a day for five cages anymore. And I'm glad I don't have to worry about stressed quail hurting each other. I'm glad I don't have to listen and watch for roosters and then feel bad for putting them all together in the box awaiting slaughter. Not a beautiful thought, but knowing it would be quick settled any sustained anxiety. My friend offered to process them and give us the meat. I'm not that much of a farmer yet. My skin gradually thickened such that I didn't pass out on the last night I had all the quails including the boys---one of them was found still alive but pecked to the bone behind it's neck. It was awful. Thankfully he was put out of his misery shortly thereafter.
I did build a cage from materials from home depot and some scrap materials from a friend. I've become pretty handy with a table saw and power drill. But I'm really good at breaking drill bits and very bad at making things square and 90 degree corners. But the cage works, I learned some things in the process, and now there are 7 quail in the bottom, 7 quail in the top, everyone seems happy, and so am I. My girlhood dream has drifted more into a memory than something I continue to think about, mostly because I've grown to hold onto my own dreams lightly and surrender my life to God. I've just started reading "Walden", Henry David Thoreau's book, not sure where that will lead, but he reminded me last night that man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That sounds really good to me. Not my dreams be done---but His dreams! And for now, thankful for our quail. The boys have a lot of fun watching them, visitors are fascinated by them, and now they are happy and dry tucked safely in our garage. Feel free to ask any more detailed questions if your interested in raising them yourself! They are the sweetest little birds!