Well our final tally for chicks is fifteen.
They're healthy and unspeakably adorable.
While some may argue that 15 out of 42 eggs is not a good return, I don't think it's half-bad considering the eggs were heaven-knows how old and just piled up in the barn for weeks before I found them.
In other words, out of this batch of eggs which might otherwise have been thrown out in the compost pile, we have fifteen new healthy chicks. Not too shabby!
By the way, if anyone wonders what an egg tooth (used by the baby chick to break out of the shell) looks like, it's the whitish knob at the tip of the chick's beak. It will be absorbed within a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile we had 27 unhatched eggs still in the incubator, ready to be tossed. Just to be on the safe side, though, we thought we'd let them sit for another day or two.
And it's a good thing we waited, 'cuz last night we heard some decidedly LOUD peeping coming from the incubator. Aha, one more unhatched chick! (Yes, they can peep while still in the shell.)
As of this morning he still hasn't hatched out, so we're being patient. It's not healthy to "help" a chick out of its shell, because doing so often kills it. But if this little guy hasn't made any progress by this evening, we may do so anyway. If he can't push himself out of the shell, he'll die. But if we help him out, there's a chance he'll live. We'll see what happens.
Meanwhile, we're standing by to incubate another batch. Odds are about half the new flock are roosters (which will grace our dinner table in a few months), plus we have some neighbors who want chicks, so we'll incubate one, maybe two more batches before the summer is through.