I've been making blogs ahead and then setting them to post automatically, but this weekend I wasn't quite as organized as usual, so you get the late breaking news.
We are in the process of watching a chick hatch today.
Here's the lowdown. After ordering our chicks through the mail for the past few years, we finally got a chicken who actually wanted to set on her own eggs. This was very exciting for all of us, since it also meant that when the chicks hatched, the hen would take care of them herself. We knew from past experience that being the mother hen for a bunch of chicks was a lot of work, so we were pretty happy to pass this off on an unsuspecting chicken.
So after waiting breathlessly for 18 to 21 days, two little chicks appeared from the original four eggs. Just on the off chance that some of the eggs were not fertilized, we had belatedly added a couple extras to the nest about ten days later. Sure enough, when the first two hatched, we eventually discovered that three of the remaining four were not going to produce chicks. And unfortunately, as soon as the mother hen had to chase the new chicks around, she no longer wanted to set on the remaining egg that seemed to be a chick.
So we took a desk lamp and our chemistry thermometer, set up a little bowl with a towel, and put the egg in it. It has been a long ten days trying to keep it between 38º and 40º Celsius and flipping the egg several times a day. Talk about primitive conditions. But last night, all our work paid off.
Dwight heard the egg cheep.
Hearing an egg cheep is significant. It means that the chick is indeed alive and has broken through the inner membrane. This morning—more cheeps. And a tiny hole. Talk about a long labor. Once the first hole shows up, the chick usually sleeps for three to eight hours. We're still looking at another eight to 16 hours before it emerges completely at some point today.
So consider this an official birth announcement. Of the first two chicks, one is mostly barred rock, and the other is partial austrolorp. We are hoping that there is at least one rooster in the bunch, since ours is getting on in chicken years, and that the mommy will take over with this chick once it is old enough to hang out with it's siblings.
If any of you have little ones (or even big ones) who would like to stop by and see the chicks, try to soon. They grow quickly!