We've been preparing for the chickens to hatch on Saturday. That's three weeks and everything tells me that it takes 21 days to hatch chickens. Well, someone forgot to tell that to the chickens. Yesterday we had three hatch, at 18 days, and today there are at least five more shells that have little pecks on them. Those chicks are trying to escape as well!
If you remember, the ducklings couldn't read a calendar either. They were supposed to arrive at 28 days and showed up at 32. Along with the chicks we have 10 ducklings - two older ducklings (3 weeks) that are outside in the extra coop, six ducklings in a trough inside that are a week old, two ducklings are with their mother in the garden. The other duck is still sitting on her nest. I'm expecting them to hatch sometime this week. We will probably take most of her ducklings and leave her with just a couple, like we did with the other duck.
It's good that I learned from the ducklings that they don't always come when predicted. I kept more of an eye on them than I normally would. I also raised the humidity a bit by spraying the eggs with a spray bottle of water twice a day now that they are in their resting position and not being turned. While the books say to let the eggs be for the last three days the little chicks ran into the eggs and knocked them around during the night since they weren't moved out of the incubator until this morning. I wonder if that will have any effect on the eggs? If so, then I'm going to have to take the chicks out quicker even though the instructions say to leave them in the incubator until they dry.
It's still a learning experience. I'm also pretty excited to know that we are doing a great job at raising our poultry. What if we didn't have the electricity for the incubator? How would we keep the temperature at 99.5? There's a new ice chest that advertises it will keep ice frozen for 5 days even if the outside temperature is in the 90s. It works too, because it kept ice frozen and our meat frozen when we used it last month. I'm thinking that if it keeps things cold it would also keep things warm. It would be more difficult to regulate the heat but if you had a hot rock (soapstone doesn't explode so that's a real good rock to use) that you heated and then put into the ice chest it would keep things hot enough. I think I will try doing this, not with eggs but just to see if I can keep the temperature regulated enough to continue to incubate the eggs. Sure the hen is the easiest but if my food and my life is on the line I'm going to be proactive as well.