All along, as we waited to see if we were going to have chicks, I had been checking chick growth charts to see what was (supposedly) going on inside those eggs. It was day 20, and I really had no idea if any of the eggs even had chickens in there.
I candled two of the eggs one night, with a weak flashlight and a paper cup, but all the eggs were brown to start with, which makes candling hit or miss anyway, and I really didn’t feel right messing with the eggs. I thought I could see an air sack in one of the lighter colored eggs, but in the other, darker egg, I saw nothing. An air sac is a good sign, but not a foolproof one.
So I still didn’t know anything.
According to the experts, by day 20, there’s a lot of action going on in there. The chick may have pierced the internal membrane with its egg tooth and begun to breathe, then started pipping away at the shell.
I wanted to stick my hand under Idee to see if I could feel any movement, but I just didn’t want to bother her. I also didn’t want to draw back a stump. Broody hens can be, rightly, very protective. We would know soon enough anyway. My curiosity could wait another day.
At night on day 20, I checked one more time. Could I hear something? Did I hear something? No, I imagined it. There are lots of cheeps and chirps in the trees around here. It must be a wild bird I heard, or nothing at all. Getting my hopes up over nothing.
I’d been warning the kids it was a long shot. Under the best of circumstances for shipped hatching eggs, a 40-50 percent hatch rate is considered a success. So many things could go wrong, unfertilized eggs, damage in shipping, inconsistent setting, genetic disorders, etc. If the FedEx man was caught tossing flatscreens over the fence, who knows what went on at the post office. Truth was, of course, we all hoped for at least one chickie despite the odds.
What would the next day bring to the coop? The hopeful sound of chirping, or a depressing silence? How long should we wait before tossing out the eggs? If no chicks, would Idee continue her fruitless vigil?
And poor Lance. I had my hands full with chicken issues. He’s a grown man and he was just going to have to handle his own problems.