Baby chickens, that is...
Some of our hens have gone broody. We left them alone, trusting that their instincts and natural acumen would take over, and believed we'd have chicks in no time.
Chickens are not the brightest bulbs in any pack. Other hens were still laying in the nests of brooding hens, who were either getting up to powder their beaks or were getting shoved off the prime coop real estate. So the eggs piled up on nests that we were leaving alone, older eggs at the bottom. These eggs started to die or would hatch and these brilliant creatures would kill the new young. And, let me tell you, the coop smelled just lovely. Eau de rot.
We decided we needed to isolate the brooding hens and have done so, but had about two dozen eggs left over that no one would claim. So, Stay and I did what we do best: research.
We built incubators out of styrofoam coolers and low watt bulbs.
I started monitoring temperature and turning and adjusting and one afternoon, just a day or so after we put them in, when I peeked in to check the temperature (yet again because I was using the wrong bulb at first and couldn't get the temp right, it was too hot or too cold) I heard a distinct peep.
Who knew chicks started peeping in the egg?
Sure enough, one of the eggs had a "pip" or crack and a baby trying to emerge. But here in Utah, humidity, essential to proper chick hatching, is hard to come by and the humidity in the incubator was too low, making it difficult for the chick to turn around in the egg...got all gummed up and stuck to the inner membrane. Hours had passed and the chick had made no progress. So again, I turned to Google.
Turns out you can help a chick hatch if you do it carefully. Again, who knew? I did it carefully, puncturing the shell a little at a time around the circumference of the egg. And look who decided to join us!
Sleepy little fella, tell you what. It was a rough day.
Finally, he pushed out of the shell completely and laid there for a long time under the warm light. It takes a lot out of a body, being born, you know.
World, meet Piper.
So far, he's the only one to hatch. I have no idea if the other eggs are viable, but I will keep turning and adjusting for another week or so, candling to see if there is progress, chucking out the bad ones and hoping none explode.
Last one out's a rotten egg!