Here is the progress of the chicks hatching.  We expected no chicks as we had a make-shift incubator.  Now, we only did this b/c we were leaving the eggs in the coop as one of the hens appeared to be trying to brood.  After they were in there for so long, and we couldn’t tell which were new and which were old, we didn’t want to eat them.  So, Arlis said “why not” and tried to hatch them.  After I explained that he would have a hard time getting everything done with me busy sitting on them all the time, he put a heat lamp in a cooler with a thermometer and put them on a towel.  We numbered the sides as they have to be turned a minimum of three times a day.  The hen does this on her own of course.  This prevents the chicks from sticking to the membrane or something.  The day before they were due, Arlis heard a PEEP and we saw…

There is a small crack on the tail of the number two.  An hour or so later…

The crack has grown.

That’s his little beak sticking out and we can watch it move and tweet now.  The shell comes off and they can get air from the outside now.  You must stop turning the eggs three days prior to this so the air sac can settle and they can breathe to hatch properly.  Now he will rest before “zipping.”  What he has done so far is called “pipping”.  In order to zip, he must turn 360 in the shell and pip all the way around through the egg and both membranes.  I decided to look under others for some odd reason, and found this little guy (see below) face down on the towel.  I turned him to get some air.

At this point, we are getting concerned as progress has stopped for several hours.  We discover, that although the humidity here is over 85%, the heat lamp is drying them out.  So, we take a bowl of water and a wet paper towel and put a corner in the bowl.  This is to help moisturize the membrane.  The chicks are stuck to the membrane and unable to rotate enough to zip through the egg.  We look online and decide to wait until morning to help them hatch.  Helping them hatch is dangerous and must be a last resort only.  They have enough food from their yolk for three days, so they are fine.

It is the next morning and absolutely no progress was made overnight.  So, a little surgery allowed me to remove the shell in a zipping pattern around the egg.  I also CAREFULLY removed a bit of membrane.  Now, the shell can be removed, but the membrane (the one you peel off a hard boiled egg) can be attached to the inner membrane (like an embryonic sac you don’t see unless the chick grows), and the inner membrane has blood vessels.  These vessels need to be broken from the inside only and slowly enough they can stop their own bleeding.  This was a very tricky and crucial stage.  I also had to wet down (Q-tip and water) lots of the membrane and remove it from the chick as it was stuck to it.  I don’t think I damaged so much as one feather!

He can push his own way out now.

I had to do the same to the other chick, as you can see.

They’re both out now.  The darker chick had egg attached to him still via membrane.  I had to wet it down and help it off, but I’m quite proud of myself and very surprised I must say!

It takes about a day to fluff out.

They’re in a bigger box now and one week old!  Their wings are getting feathers and they don’t like to be picked up and try to jump out when you do.  I’ll try to upload a video of them peeping in their shells and send the link next ti