So far five chicks have hatched out; we're waiting to see if the other five will make an appearance. The kids were ecstatic watching the action, and we were able to share it with lots of friends who came to join in the hatching-day fun. There was plenty of excitement and drama as we waited to see if each chick would be able to make it out of the shell.
Once the chicks were dry and fluffy, we transported them to the brooder (a cardboard box lined with paper and heated by lamps) where they will grow for the next few weeks. Each of the children had a basket lined with cloths in which they carried the chicks in a parade of over-the-top cuteness.
We watched attentively as the chicks settled into their new home, drank their first drops of water and eventually pecked at their first bits of food.
These chickens are Dominiques, an endangered breed of fowl that are considered the oldest breed in America, dating back to Colonial times. Hardy foragers, dually capable of producing eggs and meat, Dominiques were declared by the USDA in 1862 "the best fowl of common stock that we have, and the only common fowl in the country that has enough distinct characteristics to entitle it to a name."
It all sounds so very noble for this humble bird.
There are sure to be plenty of chick updates as the weeks go by. It will be about 6 weeks before we can determine if our chicks are hens or roosters. Then we'll have to decide which hens will be staying on in our yard (I don't think the neighbors will appreciate any rooster wake-up calls!).
For now, we are enjoying their sweet "cheep cheeps" and laughing as they wobble about, pecking at every spot they see before comically flopping, exhausted, onto the floor. They are wonderfully entertaining for us all, and the kids are seeing to it that each of these little chicks is plenty loved...