A few months back, our neighbor Tim gave us this really great old egg incubator that he had no use for. We thought at some point that we'd give hatching some eggs a try. Well, today is that day. We've had some unexpected losses this winter and so we're going to need to raise a couple more birds to make up for it. Our roosters have been busy making nice with our hens so there is a good chance that most of these eggs have been fertilized.
Normally, we'd separate one of our broody hens to set upon a clutch of eggs but right now it's all hens on deck for our flock. We cannot spare any laying hen's abilities for now, but we feel that letting Mama Nature take care of things is always preferable to human intervention.
Our plan is to not buy chicks or pullets ever again. We've had such a headache with our most recent additions to the flock not being hardy and dying or having deformities that could have been avoided with better management that we just feel like we could do a better job of it here. Ordering chicks feels kind of bad for us because we end up ordering only females and who knows what happens to the male chicks. If we raise chicks at home from our own stock, we can raise a few cockerels for the table for nearly nothing.
We'll keep you guys posted on the process! Interested in hatching your own eggs? The Backyard Chickens forum has a great tutorial on how to do it!