(Photo by my friend Debbie, ordinarycreative.com)
Happy Spring, Happy Easter!
This year we took the risk of hatching eggs in an incubator. We did our research and understood that there are many variables and only a couple may hatch, and possibly none at all. And if they hatch they could all be roosters! These are high risks for an amateur chicken family.
We ordered our eggs from My Pet Chicken. Our son Austin’s motivation was purely to experience the process of incubating eggs and hatching chicks, but I had my own agenda; to diversify our egg basket colors.
Did you know there are over a 100 breeds of chickens??
This doesn’t even begin to capture the amazing variance and uniqueness in chicken breeds. We took a gamble with our order of eggs. We ordered the intensive color batch but breed unknown.
Once we hit the buy button we quickly went to Amazon and started researching incubators. Who knew how complicated that would be? We even took a 40 minute drive to the nearest Fleet Farm hoping for some insight and direction and ended up with a nice litter tray for the bunnies but no help with the eggs we just ordered. We ordered this incubator from Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KD75VHW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_pVDSAbDP1XDK8
We read lots of reviews and being that we didn’t really know what we were doing this seemed like the best choice. But the translated directions did not help us. After watching numerous utube videos we finally figured it out, but the reference to “calling your agency” still confuses me. I wish I had a “how to use my incubator” agency, but I guess I do – utube!
We anxiously awaited our phone call from the post office that our eggs had arrived. Due to fragility of eggs they don’t deliver them to the home. We were so excited we made one trip to the post office prematurely. On the second trip we picked up our box of eggs!
It did seem strange to go to the post office to pick up eggs to hatch. We were so excited! We opened the box so carefully! We were so excited to check out the eggs. We were pleasantly surprised with a list of the breeds included in our box. We had read that we needed to wait 24 hours with the big part of the egg up to reduce air bubbles. It was hard to wait!
We got the incubator all ready. Turned it on and waited.
We did research on the eggs and breeds and made a sheet with pictures and info about each of the eggs.
Finally we put them carefully in the incubator!
And now the true waiting began – 21 days! We kept a careful watch and I hoped and prayed for some to hatch. We tried using a flash light (candling) to see if baby chicks were growing but we couldn’t tell. Our incubator was self turning so we didn’t need to turn them every day. We lost one egg in the middle due to the incubator being closed incorrectly and piercing an egg by mistake. We were super sad. And a couple days before they were due to hatch one of the eggs starting bubbling. I thought maybe that was the sign of a hatch starting but our eldest Sierra said it smelled terrible and something must be wrong. She was right. Austin went to utube and we learned something must be wrong with that egg and to get it out immediately before it affects the other eggs. So we were down to five. The directions said to take the tray out for the last couple days and increase humidity. The biggest challenge was maintaining the right temperature and humidity in the incubator. It was a gamble. We hoped and waited.
And then on the 20th morning I went downstairs and called up to the kids that the first one had hatched!!! It was so exciting! We peeked at her but didn’t really know what to do. Some say leave them in the incubator till they are fluffy others say take them out right away. We took her out after she had fluffed a bit and held her and marveled at the new life.
We put her back in the incubator hoping she would encourage her friends to hatch! By afternoon there was another hatch.
It was pure magic. But the best was yet to come! That night just before we went to bed Sierra noticed one of the eggs moving. She was convinced that one was about to hatch. We wanted to actually see it happen. So we waited and waited and just before I was about to say we had to go to bed. We watched the little chick work so hard to get out of her shell! We felt so privileged to watch this new life come into the world. We were all emotional and then the kids starting singing happy birthday. It was a really special moment I know I will always remember and I hope they do too.
We moved them into their new home – the brooder – and made sure they stayed plenty warm, that they ate and drank water. We held them and snuggled them every chance we could!
By the morning of the 21st day they had all hatched. The little brown one was the last to hatch. She seemed the most fragile of the bunch. But we are happy to report that the new chicks in town are all doing great!
We are happy we took the risk and did the incubation chick adventure. When we started this chicken adventure my goal was for the chickens to provide opportunities for us to connect and seeing these sweet little chicks hatch certainly did that! And now we wait again for the beautiful eggs to come in SIX MONTHS, hopefully by the end of the summer! And we have to figure out how to make sure they are welcomed to the flock of chickens we already have. For now they are growing inside the porch with the bunnies and they are growing fast! The chicks remind us to pause, slow down and enjoy the moment. I wish you a Happy Spring, a Happy Easter and a pause button.