I check her eggs daily, since other hens squeeze in with her and lay eggs and she collects them underneath her. So I marked her original eggs and pull out the unmarked ones. Yesterday, one of the marked eggs I pulled out had cracked and upon closer inspection-- a beak came out!
I ran for the camera and you can see there's a baby in there! I checked the other eggs but no movement on them. By nightfall, still no baby out of the shell.
Early this morning, this is what greeted me!! I checked underneath mama hen and there's another one just hatched, the feathers still wet! By the end of today, 2 baby chicks. Even though mama hen is a yellow Buff, papa is a Rhode Island Red, so the coloring seems to favor the papa.
I separated mama and her eggs and chicks into a large animal carrier. I don't want a repeat of last fall, when some of the babies were attacked by the bigger roosters and died. If I could re-do the chicken coop, I would make it twice as large, with a section dedicated to the 'nursery'. A safe place for hens to nest and sit and babies to hatch and roam without interference from the other chickens. I don't have the materials to double the coop, but I do have enough scrap lumber to build an in-law suite of sorts.
I've been busy most of the day working on it. A little apartment attached to the outside of the coop with a slanted roof that will be hinged for me to lift and inspect/clean; a fenced-in area to separate chicks from other chickens; a door that opens the full length of the box to make cleaning easier and stays shut with a latch. After initial frustrations with the wrong type of wood screws, I went out to get chick feed and proper screws. The project went along much more smoothly with the right screws and I have the floor and sides completed. I need to measure and cut the roof and door, then attach hinges and latches. Once that is done, I'll set up the fencing and transfer mama and her chicks to their new digs.
There were 9 eggs minus 2 hatched equals 7 eggs to go. I wonder how many more chicks we'll get?? I'm so proud! :o)