This was our first experience with hatching chicks and we didn't know quite how to go about it so we let Georgia do most of the work with keeping the eggs at the right temperature and humidity and turning them when needed. This worked well enough for the first two chicks. At that point, Georgia decided she was done and hopped off the nest for good. I only found the two chicks - who we named Luna and Sally, Luna because the solar eclipse was the next day and we wanted at least a semi appropriate name considering the occasion - because August 20th I was laying in bed with my window open and I heard rather frantic peeping that didn't sound like any of our local birds so I went out to investigate. I found Georgia in the run with one chick and the other chick was stuck in the coop, peeping her head off, trying (in vain) to call Georgia. Checking the nest box I found the rest of the 13 eggs beginning to cool off. Georgia had apparently decided that she was good with two chicks and the rest could fend for themselves. Having candled the eggs (probably way more often than we needed to or would be advised because we were so excited to see the little chicks developing inside) we knew that the eggs were all full of living chicks so in a panic I ran inside and set up the incubator, which I had purchased from the feed store upon seeing Georgia up and off the nest at one point, thinking that she had abandoned her eggs. (Hens will occasionally leave the nest to grab a bite to eat or go to the bathroom without any ill effects on the eggs. I discovered this after purchasing the incubator.) I carefully transferred all the eggs into the incubator and set it up on the kitchen table where we would be able to keep an eye on it and it would be relatively safe from dogs and cats.
|The incubator on our (rather messy) kitchen table.|
|Lucky, half in and half out of her shell|
|Luna and Sally hanging out underneath the heat lamp, before the brooder crate was set up.|
Once Lucky had dried out and was relatively mobile we brought Georgia into the house and set her up in the brooder pen with her chicks. She was, as it turns out, a really dedicated mother. She'd let the chicks snuggle up under her feathers to sleep or hop on her back for a ride and she always made a gentle clucking noise when food was provided to show the chicks what was food and made sure that they ate before she did.
|Georgia give a chick a ride in the brooder pen.|
The rest of the chicks hatched over the next week or two in the incubator - the reason for the staggering in hatching times was that Georgia only laid a couple of the eggs herself, we believe. The rest of the eggs she rolled into her nest as soon as the other hens laid them, and then sat on them herself, so each chick was a day or two behind the previous chick in terms of development. Once they were all big enough to be outside we set up a small pen for them so Georgia could be with them outdoors but the other hens and Gretchen would not be able to get to the chicks and possibly hurt them.
|A chick in the incubator, just after hatching.|
|Drying off in the incubator. You can see the other eggs still incubating.|
|One of our few blondies, we think these chicks are the offspring of Bridget, our Rhode Island Red hen.|
|Georgia, the proud momma, in her outdoor pen with several of her chicks.|
By the way, Lucky survived and is doing fine and she is one of the four chicks that we kept. The others were given to a friend who has a farm and was in need of some more chickens. Sadly, all of our barred rock chicks turned out to be roosters. We were planning on keeping some of the barred rocks if they were hens as their mother, Lucy, is so very friendly. How we ended up with one hen that produced only males and all the other hens producing only females is a mystery to us.
|Lucky, a beautiful black hen.|