Today is day 18 of our hatching adventure and this will be the last day we turn our incubating eggs. We’ll give them one last 180 degree turn, fill up the water trays to increase the humidity and close the cover–waiting to see what happens in the next 72 hours or so. We’re not allowed to open the incubator until after the hatch is over!
This is known as “lockdown” in the egg incubating world–which sounds far more sinister than it actually is. A mama hen knows it is time to stop fidgeting with her eggs when she hears the first faint peeps within the shells. This normally happens around day 19 or so when the embryos “pip” through the internal membrane with their egg-toothy beaks into the air sack. The chicks then need increased humidity while they are working on breaking out of the shells to keep from drying out during the process. Once the first chick hatches, the humidity shoots up even more and helps keep things warm and moist while the others hatch. If you remember the timing, day 21 is the expected hatch date.
Of course, we have no idea what’s going to happen and for the first time in our lives, we truly “feel” what the saying “Don’t count your eggs before they hatch!” means. We currently have 9 eggs in the incubator and during the last candling, we were reasonably confident there were live embryos in at least five of those eggs. Honestly, being total beginners, however, we’re just not sure so we’ll just have to wait and see what goes down in the next few days. We will definitely keep you all posted as things unfold–one way or another!