About a month ago our youngest daughter came up with the great idea that it would be fun to incubate some eggs she found out at the chicken coop where we keep our horses. I carefully explained to her how it was the middle of winter so it wasn’t likely they would have chicks inside them and that even though there is a rooster in with the hens, he’s pretty small and young and probably not ready to be a daddy. Despite all this, she insisted she wanted to incubate the two eggs she had found because it would be fun. I figured, what harm could it do? Aside from the disappointment of nothing coming out, how badly could this end? Maybe she’d just forget about them in the incubator. Maybe she would leave them in my car and forget to incubate them all together. It didn’t hurt to say, “okay”.
And so she brought them home. She carefully set them up in the incubator that had just days before housed petri dishes for my oldest daughter’s science experiment. (Yes, it turns out an egg incubator is a very cheap way to incubate petri dishes!). She wrote on our calendar “Day 1” and then dutifully turned those eggs every day. I actually kind of forgot about those eggs after a week or so. The incubator was quietly humming in the corner of our living room for so long it just became background noise. But my daughter didn’t forget. She turned those eggs, filled a small bowl with water to keep the humidity up and took care of those eggs like she had laid them herself. She asked me nearly three weeks later if I thought there were chicks in her eggs yet. I felt terrible because I realize how attached she was to the idea that she was “making chickens”. She would be so disappointed when nothing came out. I again told her that it was really unlikely those eggs had chicks in them but she was undeterred.
Twenty days after placing those eggs in the incubator I was sitting at choir when my phone pinged to say I had a text message. It was from my daughter who was home with her sisters and her grandma. It said two words – THEY’RE HATCHING!!!!”. For a second I just stared at it and thought, huh? What’s hatching? Then I realized…the eggs! I came home and there were all the girls huddled around the incubator. I still didn’t believe it until I looked in the glass and sure enough…a tiny beak was peeking out of a hole in one of the eggs. 15 minutes later out popped a very wet black chick. Of course the girls were thrilled! The second egg just lay in the incubator very still. My daughter said that the next one might just need more time to hatch. I was skeptical but the next day out popped another chick.
Lucky for us, we have friends who happen to need a couple more chickens so once these chicks are old enough, they can live where we will still see them every day. I know lots of families have hatched chicks from eggs, but there’s just something amazing about seeing that little chick come out of something that is usually breakfast at our house. The fact that life can form inside that egg is so perfectly is incredible. It was a great experience for our kids but despite their pleas, we are not about to become chicken farmers. The 10 eggs they have subsequently gathered from the chicken coop will not be going into the incubator and we will not be having a cupcake/baby chicken sale outside our home. But that’s okay. They’ve moved on to the frogs that have started appearing in the creek by our horses and I think I saw a Tupperware full of frog eggs next to the bathroom sink…
Five Cities Veterinary Hospital
Ph: (805) 481-5555