We waited. And waited. And waited.
The eggs should have hatched at day 21. Or, occasionally if the weather is very cold, they could hatch at day 25. This past Monday marked day 27. We figured there was no hope so we headed up to our local feed store where I proceeded to pick out 11 chicks. (A mix of Chantecler's, Brown Leghorns, Barred Rock, and Brahmas.)
Tabby is hoping to go into the Silkie Bantum breeding business and she bought herself 8 Silkies:
Then we took my box out to the coop and Tabby carefully slipped the chicks under the hen. She quietly watched to see if the hen would accept them.
The chicks popped in and out for awhile, then all snuggled under her to sleep.
During this process, Tabby found the strangest thing. An egg was hatching!
Soon a little dark colored chick finally cracked it's way out of the egg. What?! At day 27? The next day we "candled" the rest of the eggs to see if we might expect more super late hatching chicks. (We took the eggs into a dark room and shined a flashlight into them.) We found a couple bad eggs, and several that had furry looking creatures in them. Not sure if they are alive or not so we stuck them back under the hen. We'll leave them there several more days to see what happens.
We all keep going out to peek in on the hen and chicks. It is remarkable how big the hen can spread her wings out to snuggle 12 chicks and a bunch of eggs under her. She looks so proud and protective. Seeing things like this really help make more Bible verses come alive for me. Like this one:
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." - Matthew 23:37
I mean before seeing our hen and chicks, I certainly could imagine this verse. But seeing it in person is different. Much more meaningful. I feel so blessed for our little farm and the chance to be surrounded by all these animals and nature. I am able to feel God more, if that makes sense.
This evening I found one little chick is doing terribly. I immediately called Tabby, our resident chicken whisperer. She flew into action, telling me about all the things she read and what might be wrong and what we should try.
First she gave the chick some water. Then she noticed it had "pasty butt." (OK - I know several of you are laughing at that - they really call it that. Their messy bottoms get hardened up and clogs them up and they have to be cleaned off.) Tabby cleaned up the chick. Then we fed it some more water and some scrambled egg. Then put it under the mama hen to rest.
By the way, Tabby's favorite chicken book is Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele. She pours over it and takes notes from it and tells me all about the information. (She's even giving her Silkie chicks apple cider vinegar in their water and has plans for all sorts of healthy additives like garlic.) I need to read the book myself. We both read the author's blog, Fresh Eggs Daily at: http://www.fresh-eggs-daily.com The author cracks us up - she loves her chickens so much she even makes curtains for their nesting boxes! She has tons of great information though - both for chickens, ducks, and herbal stuff for humans. :)
I guess we'll see what tomorrow holds for us, in the furry, peeping world of chicks!