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Hatch-a-Long 2020

 
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Is anyone up for a hatch-a-long with me this year?

I want to figure out how to hatch my eggs for easter weekend.  I think if I put the chicken eggs in the incubator on Friday or Saturday, they should hatch out for Easter weekend.  Did I get my math right?

Anyone else hatching eggs this year?  Anyone else want to try for Easter?

let's share photos, stories, questions and other fun things about this year's hatch.
 
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Take Easter's date and count back 21 days.  If your chicks hatch "like they're supposed to", you'll have easter chicks  If my counting is correct this would be Mach 22nd.  Day "1" of your incubation is always 24 hours after you set the eggs.

Over the years I'd seen a lot of variation in when eggs hatch.  And it doesn't have to do with incubation conditions, as far as I can tell.  I had one year where every clutch set hatched on day 18/19.  This happened with about a dozen broody clutches as well as an equal number of incubator hatches between 2 different incubators.  Since that year, I now start my 'lockdown' day on day 16 rather than day 18, just in case they hatch early.  Which does seem to happen from time to time.  I've had chicks hatch as late as 23 or 24 days, but that's usually not a good sign.  The early hatches haven't come with health problems, but the later hatches often do.  I even had a turkey hen sit the same 9 eggs for 40 days!  40 days!  All 9 hatched!  I candled them like crazy and sure enough, they'd still be viable and developing.  But she just kept sitting and they kept not hatching.  Normally turkey eggs hatch in 28 days.  I have no clue what happened with her clutch but all 9 made it just fine!

I've got my first broody I'll be setting eggs on today I think!   I don't want to wait another 5 days!  She'll be setting marans, ameraucana, and fibro eggs.  
I'm a hatch-o-holic.  But being off-grid I can't expend the precious power running an incubator 24/7.  So I amass broody hens and always keep a fresh stash of hatchable-eggs rotated and ready to set.

 
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r ranson wrote:Is anyone up for a hatch-a-long with me this year?

I want to figure out how to hatch my eggs for easter weekend.  I think if I put the chicken eggs in the incubator on Friday or Saturday, they should hatch out for Easter weekend.  Did I get my math right?

Anyone else hatching eggs this year?  Anyone else want to try for Easter?

let's share photos, stories, questions and other fun things about this year's hatch.



I'll play! But full disclosure I am not hatching my own chicken eggs, but I have live baby chicks I ordered last fall arriving I think wednesday april 8th, a full five days before easter, but close enough right? :)

I think your math is correct for 21/22 days, but like Jen said some chicks may have a different day in mind.

I'll be happy to share pictures and progress.
 
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I'm sure there will be much better pictures shortly, but just so there's a picture to get us going, these are Step 2 in getting some Goldie/khaki X ducklings. They will be due around Easter Monday depending on Mother Nature. Some of the larger eggs may show up a day early, judging from last year's experiment.

Most of the time, I try to get my Muscovy ducks to hatch out my ducklings, but we've had crazy weather, and only one Goldie is still laying as they're getting old, so I figured this was a chance to get a cross. I'm hoping I can talk her into fostering them - I much prefer "mom-raised" younglings whenever possible, but they don't have to actually hatch them. We've had a Goldie foster in the past.
Pre-ducklings.jpg
[Thumbnail for Pre-ducklings.jpg]
 
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I set a batch of Pilgrim goose eggs in the incubator a week ago, so they're slated to hatch right around Easter if things go as planned. I candled yesterday and it looks like they're developing so I'll keep you posted.

Almost forgot: I have one goose on a nest as of the end of the week (right by the porch, so I'm treated to hissing every time I open the door), so she may hatch her clutch just a few days later.
 
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Hoping my hens get inspired to go bloody soon. Love this idea!!
 
Jay Angler
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I *know* that r ranson is really looking for adorable fluffy little fuzz-balls, but this picture is where we're at:

If you look carefully at the left end there's a dark spot and squiggly blood vessels going up and down from there. Three and a bit weeks, and that will hopefully turn into the fluffy fuzz-ball we're looking for. Out of the eggs I posted above, it looks like I have 8 developing eggs. There's been inbreeding issues on my Island which I'm trying to fix, but I'm not there yet!
My pre-duckling test kit is a little flashlight with a doubled over piece of bicycle inner tube slid on the light end. If you ask your local bike-shop for a dead tube that's about the right diameter, it will just slide on and be firm enough it will stay. A little big and a rubber band will help. A little small and you may not be able to double it over, which gives a nice firm edge to gently seal against the egg. Most bike shops are happy to give away old tubes and people use them for all sorts of things. They may not still hold air, but I've made rubber washers, cheap "hinges" etc out of them.
 
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Jay Angler wrote:
My pre-duckling test kit is a little flashlight with a doubled over piece of bicycle inner tube slid on the light end. If you ask your local bike-shop for a dead tube that's about the right diameter, it will just slide on and be firm enough it will stay. A little big and a rubber band will help. A little small and you may not be able to double it over, which gives a nice firm edge to gently seal against the egg. Most bike shops are happy to give away old tubes and people use them for all sorts of things. They may not still hold air, but I've made rubber washers, cheap "hinges" etc out of them.



My candling light.....

* A small CFL.
* Light socket
* Knee high sock.

Screw CFL into light socket. Wrap sock around body of light. Maybe not as good as a purpose built one but it works. :)
 
john mcginnis
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Well I would enter, but I think I would be cheating......



Hatched this morning. Maybe 3 more by tomorrow.

Oh guess I cheated twice, they are silver appleyard ducks, not chickens.

 
r ranson
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Thanks for the bump.  I snuggled my eggs in on Friday night but I forgot to turn them today.  

Question: is it okay to always turn them the same way?
 
Jay Angler
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r ranson wrote:

I snuggled my eggs in on Friday night but I forgot to turn them today.



I've only done ducks and goose, but this is from the goose info page in my records: "You will want to turn your eggs 180 degrees four times a day for best hatch rates. It is important to make a small mark on your egg to differentiate between the two sides so you can keep track of your turning, especially when turning by hand. "

from: https://www.incubators.org/goose-egg-incubation.html   I just checked and the page still exists.

It is a nuisance when you don't have a bird mom to do this chore!
 
john mcginnis
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I wish everyone good luck on the hatch-a-thon. Sounds like fun.

Out of 11 eggs set 7 ducklings have emerged.

Hang tough everyone, these are trying times.
 
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I set some Icelandic chicken eggs starting on March 1 - there are a dozen eggs in the incubator now, but I started with five, and added the others over the next five or six days, so the hatch could be spread out a bit.  As soon as they are out of the incubator, I’ll set another batch.  I have twenty eggs on standby, and should have maybe another dozen by the time they go in the incubator.  I didn’t think of trying to get an Easter hatch; I wanted as many March-hatched chicks as possible.  They will be the most likely to lay all through this coming winter even without lights.  

We also have chicks from the feed store, because I wasn’t sure what I would end up with from the few Icies I have left.  We should have a surplus of eggs by late summer, and that may be a very good thing this year.

 
James Freyr
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Just arrived!
Spring-2020-chicks.jpg
[Thumbnail for Spring-2020-chicks.jpg]
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I got eight live chicks out of my dozen Icelandic eggs - had forgotten about this thread!  (We’ve been dealing with medical issues with my daughter; found out she has a severely enlarged, almost non-functional bladder, caused by hidden spina bifida which we didn’t know she had, so now she has a catheter in until/unless she has a urostomy.).

I’ve got another four dozen eggs in the incubator.  We had a power outage of unknown duration last night and the incubator cooled down quite a bit before they got that fixed, so I hope they weren’t too badly damaged.  Should be hatching a couple of weeks after Easter this time.  Some of the eggs are over three weeks old, because I’m only collecting from three hens, so I don’t really expect a great hatch.
 
r ranson
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we hear peeping noises
 
Jen Fan
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Hatch in progress here!  Another one in about a week!
63250644-E684-4A11-A0F6-C0FC5ACB7CB0.jpg
FIRST PEEP OF 2020
FIRST PEEP OF 2020
 
Candace Williams
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One little Banty hen is getting broody. Hope her sisters join her and set together!!
 
r ranson
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Jay Angler
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Congratulations r ranson! You wanted fluffy and you definitely got fluffy!

I have not given up hope on mine, but I've been having real issues with humidity control. I'm not seeing internal pipping, but it's duck cross, so I'll impatiently wait... (background noise of toe tapping)
 
Jay Angler
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Now I'm excited *and* impatient - this morning 3 eggs showed external pipping! There is hope!

I'm also a sucker - today I got #2 son to show me how to record on my cell phone and recorded 5 min of general conversation in the duck run. Then #2 son showed me how to play it back for the hatching ducklings. One of my personal issues with how many of our domestic animals are raised is the lack of a natural mom (or at least close - I'm willing to let Muscovy foster Khakis). In this instance I needed to use an incubator but I'm still hoping that once they hatch I can get one of our older Goldies to foster, and at the very least, I want them to know they're ducks. I figured duck conversation was a place to start, although I have no idea if it will help or not.
 
Candace Williams
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Once upon a time I had ducks go broody and I wanted chicks so I tucked hen eggs under the ducks. When they hatched the duck parents were confused by their oddly behaved hatchlings but other than that it worked well. Things worked out over time. The chicks knew they weren't ducks and a hen adopted them as I remember.
 
Catherine Carney
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My first goose nest hatched on 4/19. Three healthy goslings, and they're being shepherded around the property by the parents. I've attached a pic in case anyone needs a dose of cuteness.

2020-first-goslings.JPG
Pilgrim goslings hatched 4/19. Gander on left, goose on right
Pilgrim goslings hatched 4/19. Gander on left, goose on right
 
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AARRRGGHHH....THE..CUTE..NESS..TOO..MUCH!...CAN'T...TAKE...IT!...i'm ded...send help 😍
 
Jay Angler
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Geese are such awesome parents! Great picture Catherine!

I'm stuck being mom to three ducklings, so they live in the bathtub:

Amazing how quickly they grow!
 
Catherine Carney
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Pilgrims are definitely great parents. They're shepherding their brood around the yard as we speak, and I pity the raccoon or fox foolish enough to try to mess with them.

I did have one egg from the clutch that ended up in the incubator since it was a couple of days behind the rest of the clutch, so I have a gosling in the brooder at the moment. It seems to have imprinted on me, so getting it out with the rest of the family may be a bit problematic.
 
Candace Williams
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My Banty hen is still on the nest and her daughter is  not sure if she wants to set or not still. But today a neighbor brought me four month old chicks that he didn't want!! So I have them in the upstairs closet in a fish tank. Such a nice gift. He said he had to buy 10 but only wanted 6 and had asked me advice for what breed to get and why. So he gave me the extras in exchange for the advice to get golden lace wyandottes because they do well in this frozen north woods!! So he just gave me one of my fav chicken breeds too!! Wowee.  Happy spring cold day as it spits snow outside.
 
Jay Angler
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A little update on my bathtub ducklings who are 2 weeks old now! About 5 days ago, something happened to one of our drakes and he was found freezing and waterlogged in the stock tank. We dried him off and stuck him in a chicken hospital overnight and he was still alive in the morning. I have no way to feed and water a drake in a crate, so I decided to try putting him in the bathtub with the ducklings during the day at least. At first the drake was at one end and the ducklings at the other, hiding behind their waterer, but by late afternoon, the looked like this:

But a drake and 3 growing ducklings make a mess like you wouldn't believe! So I rearranged things in the field so that I had one older duck in a mini-hoop with duckling-proof fencing on the portable run. I've had older, non-broody birds attack little ones, but I hoped that with Drake there, she would accept the new living arrangements. The mini-hoop has hardware cloth to the base on either side of a pop-door. I closed the door so Duck was outside and Drake +3 were inside, but they could "meet and greet" through the wire for a couple of hours. Then I went back out and opened the door (and refilled the waterer - I don't know how they do that!) I went and checked a couple hours later and took the following picture:

I locked them into the mini-hoop at "Duckie Bedtime" and by the time I'd done the other night chores and walked back past them, the ducklings were in a heap on the grass and the duck was less than a foot away looking like she was a happy duck. I couldn't see Drake from were I was standing and I didn't want to disturb things, but it looks like I'm off the hook as "mom" - yippee!
 
Vanessa Alarcon
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the last pic reminds me of Snape protecting Harry, Hermoine and Ron 😍😁
 
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I currently have 8 turkey eggs and a few days worth of guinea eggs in my incubator so, hopefully, I'll have new fluffballs in a few weeks. 🤞

The ones I "cheated" with (bought as hatchlings) are doing well. The ducklings outgrew the tote brooder in my spare bathroom, so I moved them to the rabbit barn. Since I needed somewhere to put them when I did cage cleaning, I put them in a live-catch trap, which I set out by the goose pen. I don't have a gander so both geese have been laying infertile eggs and try to go broody if I don't collect them for the kitchen. So I decided to see how strong their instincts to brood are, and let them have access to the cage with the ducklings. It took under a half hour for them to convince the ducklings to abandon me as "mom" and follow them instead. Now, I just hope the ducks don't turn out too wild, since I plan to use them for snail/slug/pest control in the gardens. But I hatched & raised the geese, so they're pretty laid back around me, and will hopefully teach that to the ducklings.
On the plus side, it's sure nice to not have to scrub and sanitize the brooder cage every day since the ducklings would make it a huge mess!

The three turkey poults I got a week after the ducks started escaping their tote in the bathroom, so they're now in the brooder cage in the barn previously occupied by the ducks. I think the feed store I got them from had them on plain chick starter, so I've been giving them a higher protein crumble to push some growth before they start being allowed time in the "play pen" outside.
IMG_20200509_150540438_HDR.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200509_150540438_HDR.jpg]
 
Jay Angler
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I thought I should post an update!
1. My 3 bathtub ducklings have really grown, but I haven't heard a "quack" yet, so I don't know the sexes.
2. I've lost *ALL* fertility in my Muscovy ducks from the look of things. I've got 10 eggs in the incubator for a test and there was nothing when I candled them last night. I will candle them again tomorrow night since they are a 5 week hatch, so it's possible that 5 full days wasn't long enough to see anything.
3. The Muscovy mom who was sitting on Muscovy eggs which were going rotten and breaking under her, was amazingly cooperative when I stole her last 3 eggs and replaced them with 8 Khaki Campbell eggs which I'd started in the incubator as a fertility test for a male so she's now due about June 4th.
4. Her neighbor, Salty, lost 5 eggs in just a couple of days at about the 4 week mark. I gave her some Khaki eggs from the same moms and dad, so they should be fertile, but that will delay her hatch to June 16.
5. That leaves a BWD (Bossy White Duck) still on Muscovy eggs which I really don't believe are fertile, but she hasn't lost any yet that I know of, so I'd rather not disturb her nest. What I have done is put another 9 Khaki eggs from the same group into the incubator so if she starts to have broken eggs, I'll be ready with some replacements. It seems as if mom knows there's a problem and I come offering a solution, she can sense that I'm trying to help and settles right back down on the new eggs. In the past when there's been a problem if I just destroy the nest and kick a mom out into the field, she goes into mourning and it has occasionally been a tough adjustment. That's why I always try to have a back-up plan.
6. Luckily, Bishop did an awesome job of raising Khaki's last year, so when she went broody, I gave her Khaki eggs even though I hadn't done a fertility test yet. She's due June 1st and I can't believe how quickly that's coming!
7. Just to complicate my life, one of my husband's industrial chickens decided she didn't want to be left out and went broody. I had to move her out of the group she's with and into a duck nest box on 8 chicken eggs - amazingly she settled right down on them with no argument at all! She's due June 14.
8. So that just leaves the Owlets I've posted pictures of on permies! They're getting better at flying. Tonight they were sitting side-by-side on a branch so we left a message for my photographer friend (his blog - http://www.naturalimagescanada.ca/blog - any owls pictured are living on my farm) and he showed up pretty promptly and is hopefully not totally lost in the forest trying to follow the little guys. The night I saw one of the adults feeding one of the owlets was an incredible site. We're right on the edge of suburbia, but all it takes is some trees and a permaculture approach to working with nature, and we can share our land with incredible wild creatures.
 
Jay Angler
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We've got babies!! Bishop and Messy Mom hatched out ducklings 3 days apart so each have 4 ducklings in tow.
20200613_MM-4.jpg
Mom is *very* protective!
Mom is *very* protective!
 
Jay Angler
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...and since it's baby season, #2 Eagle Eye Son asked me to come and look at this "brown clump" on the tree outside because he thought there was something moving in it. It was a hummingbird nest with two babies! Quick call to my friendly local wildlife photographer who was *thrilled* to drop everything and come and take baby pictures and wants to come back again tomorrow and bring a friend.
2020-Rufous-Hummingbirds-beside-house.JPG
We can see this standing at the side of our house! Totally awesome!
We can see this standing at the side of our house! Totally awesome!
 
Jay Angler
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I suspect many of you think baby season is over - surprise!
A wonderful fellow permie had a Muscovy on eggs, but it was getting too hot and dry on her farm, so I brought the incubator and brought the eggs home. Clearly, some duck had been sneaking in and adding eggs to the nest, so development wasn't consistent, and some of the eggs were clearly rotten. It took a few days to be sure, but eventually I was left with 3 eggs that looked and smelled viable, but I had no sure idea of a hatch date, so figuring out went to stop turning them involved guess-work and luck. But still - nothing seemed to be happening. They didn't stink, but I'd pretty much given up hope when all of a sudden I saw external pipping! Then nothing again for a whole day! Then today, 1, 2, 3 I've got ducklings! The last one was still looking a little soggy last I checked, but not giving up hope was the right move (that and trusting my nose!)

Now if the weather is nice tomorrow, I've got to figure out who in the field might be interested in ducklings to foster. I'm betting on Messy Mom, but maybe it will be Abbey.

I've still got 3 more of my own Muscovy eggs in the incubator due in two weeks, and Salty's on Khaki eggs due in 1 week and Bishop's on Muscovy eggs due in 2 weeks, so I really am not done with ducklings yet.
 
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I happen to see a bird egg in the wild, the first instinct is to assume that it is abandoned and needs to be rescued and hatch at home. I intend to learn how to hatch a bird egg to rescue abandoned bird eggs and help them continue with the life cycle. Should the eggs will successfully be hatched, then the difficult challenge of taking care of the hatchlings will be my next problem.
 
Jay Angler
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Steve Earsom wrote:I happen to see a bird egg in the wild, the first instinct is to assume that it is abandoned and needs to be rescued and hatch at home. I intend to learn how to hatch a bird egg to rescue abandoned bird eggs and help them continue with the life cycle. Should the eggs will successfully be hatched, then the difficult challenge of taking care of the hatchlings will be my next problem.

Alas Steve, unless you're incredibly lucky, there's a good chance the eggs were abandoned for a reason. Step One would certainly be to candle them. Step Two would be to be honest about the long-term prospects. A single hatchling will imprint on you as "mother" and I have found few humans who are sufficiently capable of speaking and acting the way that species does to effectively teach the hatchling to fit in with that species. Three is the minimal number I've managed to raise with them at least having some sense that they're a bird, and I made an effort to let them see and hear adults of their kind as soon as possible (I even took audio recordings of the adults and played it while they were hatching and after for example).

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't try, but if you think you will be releasing a home raised bird into the wild, you will need to do a *lot* of research and be careful of how you interact with the young. If you're prepared to provide a long term home for the bird, that may be an easier outcome and will save the egg's life, but you may need to get special permission and I would document what you do as you go along as some species are "protected" and there are other rules about "feeding wild animals" that you could trip over with the best intentions.
 
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Jay Angler wrote:

Steve Earsom wrote:I happen to see a bird egg in the wild, the first instinct is to assume that it is abandoned and needs to be rescued and hatch at home. I intend to learn how to hatch a bird egg to rescue abandoned bird eggs and help them continue with the life cycle. Should the eggs will successfully be hatched, then the difficult challenge of taking care of the hatchlings will be my next problem.

Alas Steve, unless you're incredibly lucky, there's a good chance the eggs were abandoned for a reason. Step One would certainly be to candle them. Step Two would be to be honest about the long-term prospects. A single hatchling will imprint on you as "mother" and I have found few humans who are sufficiently capable of speaking and acting the way that species does to effectively teach the hatchling to fit in with that species. Three is the minimal number I've managed to raise with them at least having some sense that they're a bird, and I made an effort to let them see and hear adults of their kind as soon as possible (I even took audio recordings of the adults and played it while they were hatching and after for example).

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't try, but if you think you will be releasing a home raised bird into the wild, you will need to do a *lot* of research and be careful of how you interact with the young. If you're prepared to provide a long term home for the bird, that may be an easier outcome and will save the egg's life, but you may need to get special permission and I would document what you do as you go along as some species are "protected" and there are other rules about "feeding wild animals" that you could trip over with the best intentions.


Steve, I really the admire your determination to help birds in this way. I also think Jay is right that this is incredibly difficult to do in a good way for the birds long-term well being. Heck, even their short term well being, as caring for and feeding wild baby birds safely is hard. Since this seems important to you to pursue, I wonder if you could find a local wildlife rehabilitator who works with birds and volunteer to help them? That could be a great way to get some mentorship and help someone who almost certainly has their hands full. It would also protect you, since as Jay mentioned, many species of birds are protected and possessing them, even if it's with good intent, can get you in trouble. Rehabbers have permits and whatnot for that, not to mention the expertise.
 
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