Four chicks . . . that's what we were finally able to hatch out of approximately 48 eggs through the incubator.
I had no idea that hatching eggs would be so temperamental. The very existence of these little fluffballs all hinges on precise levels of humidty, temperatures not wavering one whit from 99.5 degrees, rotating ever so gently to exercise the chick inside the shell. How do the hens do it!
We loaded the incubator. Checked the temps. Filled the resevoir to maintain proper humidity. Checked the temps. Watched the turner, every hour, to make sure it was indeed turning. Checked the temps. Counted the days. Re-counted the days. Checked the temps. And waited.
The first batch was a complete failure for numerous reasons. The second batch resulted in four chicks hatching over the course of four days.
It was a thrill to see cracks in the shell which turned into chips which turned into holes. We could hear peeps and see movement behind those holes. We checked on them, especially the kids, all the more often. Once they hatched and dried, the chicks were moved from the incubator to the pantry counter and housed comfortably under a heat light.
Two are lighter, more yellow in color, with racing stripes down their backs. And the other two are darker grey with grey/green legs. They are a mix of Araucana and Lakenvelder (on their dad's side). But each has its own unique striping and coloring so it will be fun to see them age.
The last chick born was exceptionally noisy, peeping loud and long. So in an effort to quiet him down, I'd hold him in my hand and snuggle him against me while I watched tv. I figured chicks "in the wild" would be squashed under their mothers feathery tookis for the majority of their first days. Maybe he was lacking warmth and companionship? It seemed to do the trick. And at least we were relieved of the incessant peeping for a little while!
So we've since moved the chicks out to the chick coop, giving them a pen of their own. They need to put on some size before we turn them in with our laying hens. But after only one week, they've started to grow feathers on their wings and tails. Pretty soon all that soft fluff with disappear. They're stretching their wings and doing the things that chickens do best. And maybe the next go'round we'll shoot for the moon and hatch an even dozen!