Three weeks ago we decided we were going to do one more hatch of chicks for the year.
Our first batch of chicks went to our neighbors...
...who transported them to their new home in a box.
With only twelve chicks from the second hatch (of which half, statistically, will be roosters), we decided to put in a third hatch.
Meanwhile, poor patient Smoky's eggs never hatched. Three weeks came and went, and not a peep from her clutch.
So, since she was still broody, I removed her old eggs...
...and gave her some fresh ones, wondering if she'd have the patience to stay on the job for another three weeks.
She did. Unfortunately the chicks were due to hatch yesterday, and I haven't seen any evidence that they're doing anything. Poor Smoky.
Last Friday it was time to take the incubator eggs out of the automatic turner, add water to the extra reservoir, and put the eggs on the screen in anticipation of the hatch.
Just in time, too. A few hours later, the first crack appeared.
Soon there were multiple eggs with cracks.
Time to clean out the brooder box from the last time. I tipped out the old sawdust...
...and got some fresh shavings from the shop...
...which I added to the box. Add a gooseneck lamp, and we're good to go.
First two chicks.
Here's a hatch from beginning to end. (Most of the photos were taken through the clear plastic top of the incubator, so the colors are a bit distorted.)
For this hatch, we gathered eggs from two other neighbor's flocks, so we could introduce some fresh bloodlines into our birds. Still, it came as a surprise when this chick hatched out -- yellow! All our birds have been dark or buff, so this was unexpected.
We ended up with three yellow chicks of various shades, so it will be fun to see what they grow up to look like.
A total of ten chicks hatched, and it looks like that's all we'll get from this batch. Once again the sound of soft peeping fills the house.
Meanwhile, poor Smokey was still setting, week after fruitless lonely week.
The solution was obvious, wasn't it? We gave her some chicks.
Unsure how well she'd take to chicks she didn't personally hatch, I scooped up two fuzzy guinea pigs (guinea chicks?) and carried them out to the barn.
Smoky is used to me, and the chicks were too startled to make any noise, so I scootched first one, then the other, under Smoky's ruffled feathers. Then I sat back to watch.
Well, at first the chicks did what ALL baby chicks do when they're in a dark and warm place. They fell asleep. (Chicks can do this more or less instantly.) So although Smoky seemed a bit startled at my invasive actions, she didn't really react since the chicks weren't making any noise.
Then they peeped. Oh my, that got her attention!
I left her alone for a few minutes, and when I checked back in, she had repositioned herself and looked a bit surprised, but quite smug. (Can you see the chick poking out her front?)
So, since she seemed accepting of new chicks, I brought out two more and shoveled them underneath her.
I also took the opportunity to remove the eggs. One broke as I did so (pee-yew!) but I tucked the others in the incubator just in case. I doubt they're fertile, though, as the undeveloped broken egg attested.
Smoky just couldn't seem to get over all the exciting changes happening underneath her.
Then she settled back down, looking about as pleased as a hen can look.
I had to go into Coeur d'Alene in the afternoon, so the moment I got home I checked her again. One of the chicks was out, watched attentively by mama.
Another chick poked its head out from under her wing to see what was happening.
Yes, we have a happy pen tonight, bedded down with her babies in the barn.