21 days is all it takes to make yourself a batch of chicks!
Well... 21 days of constantly messing with the temperature and humidity of a very temperamental and inexpensive incubator which was poorly situated in an uninsulated building just as a storm front came in.
As the movie below attests I did a decent job of being a momma hen, but I have to tell you, it is sooooo much easier to let a real hen do it.
The eggs have X's and O's on them because they needed to be turned three times a day and that is how I kept them all on the same turning schedule.
The humidity is supposed to be around 45 but I had to put two bowls of water with sponges in them before I could get it that high.
During all this fussing I had a lot of time to ponder the architecture of an egg. It is fascinating and a real testament to the miracle of nature.
Anyone who has ever peeled a boiled egg has noticed it has a big end and a little end and on that big end there is an air pocket.When eggs are being set on by a hen, she is turning them every few hours and this helps the chick to form in the proper position in the egg- with it's head at the big end where the air bubble is. This is the air that the chick breaths just before it manages to pip a hole in the egg shell.
In the end I had 19 hatch out of 30 eggs. Not fantastic, but not bad either. All were healthy and fit.
That night I put half of them under each of two broody hens and breathed a sigh of relief. Being momma is such hard work!