If you remember, we've been incubating some eggs using the incubator we purchased last fall.
The eggs are due to hatch Monday (three week incubation period). So, according to the incubator directions, a couple days ago in anticipation of the hatch, we filled the extra reservoir with water and removed the eggs from the automatic egg turner.
We laid the eggs directly on the mesh screen...
As I said, the eggs are due to hatch Monday. But here it is, Saturday night, and we hear peeping! The girls were instantly entranced, watching a couple of eggs rock slightly and counting the number of shells that are breaking.
They counted a total of ten (so far) in the very early stages of hatching. See the crack?
Naturally this means we have to put together a brooder box in anticipation of 42 (or so) Happy Events. Normally we'd use one of the stock tanks as a brooder, but they're both being used. So we took a large cardboard box and lined it with a plastic garbage bag.
Then I got some wood shavings from the shop...
... and spread them out, with a gooseneck lamp ready to go for heat.
We washed the chick feeder and waterer.
For food, I took a bit of our usual layer crumbles...
...and ground it up in the blender.
This extra-fine food will do for the moment, but come Monday we'll purchase some chick starter. Many years ago when we still lived in Oregon, we thought we could get away with just grinding adult food into finer bits for our batch of chicks, and what followed was horrible: the babies grew up grossly misshapen and crippled (no doubt lacking some key nutrient), and Don had to put about half of them out of their misery. I don't know what magic ingredient is in chick starter that keeps chicks growing healthy (make a note: find out), but we've never again attempted to raise chicks on adult food.
We're all set! Hopefully by tomorrow we'll have at least a few chicks already out of the shell. I'll be sure to document everything as it happens.