In addition to buying baby chicks from a local farmer, we have also tried to raise our own naturally from our laying hens. Last year, we tried to be VERY natural, and leave the eggs under our hens, assuming that the chickens would do what it takes to make cute chicken babies. Not so much. All we got for that little experiment was rotten eggs. I guess our hens are deadbeat mothers.
So this year Farmer Seth built an incubator from an old cooler to give the girls a little help. (I can't explain how he did this, but he found instructions online. My husband was completely the brains behind this school project. Obviously).
It was actually pretty awesome...it had a heat source, and a fan, and an auto-shut off for temperature and humidity....but again, I can't explain how any of that works.
You have to mark each egg and turn them over from side X to side O at least twice a day (because that is what hens naturally do).
It takes about 18-21 days for the eggs to incubate. My kids spent most of that 21 days like this:
Until finally they started to hatch (our rooster is black, so that is why some of the chicks are black):
The kids were just thrilled (and yes, I know their faces are dirty. Apparently this was a chick-petting emergency and we couldn't pause to wash up):
But the poor chicks kept getting dropped on their heads:
And squeezed (in a loving way, of course):
And dropped (Dude. This may be my favorite picture ever. I can't stop laughing):
But they survived to be squeezed another day. Just don't tell PETA.
Now they are happily living out in the chicken coop with the big chickens. And only one has met an unfortunate end. Whoops.