Unfortunately, we're down to 11 eggs. Around Day 13 we had a rotten egg explosion. My husband found it and says it was pretty gross. Mama must have dragged it out of the nest box onto the ground because my husband found it a foot or so outside of the box. It was a stinky sack of yuck, so I don't blame her for getting it out of there. We had an egg go missing last year and can only assume the same type of explosion happened. Our best guess is one of the chickens ate it because we never found a trace of it. If you didn't think chickens were gross, thinking about one eating a busted rotten egg will change your mind.
We tried candling the eggs early on around Day 8 and saw a little something in a handful, so hopes are we'll have a handful of little bits running around soon. I haven't had a chance to check them with good results since because Mama normally gets off the eggs in the mornings when I'm at work. With the eggs being such a dark brown, the only way we can candle them is with a pretty powerful light, so my one quick attempt with a flashlight was feeble (the flashlight method worked well last year with the tiny white bantam eggs). So, it'll be a complete surprise how many hatch unless I can steal them this weekend while she's taking a break at the water cooler.
At the start of this brooding, I said I was going to be relaxed this time around and I am proud to say I have been. I only check on her once a day. When it was 100 degrees, I brought her cold ice water every morning. And, that's it. It's easy to be calm when you're prepared. We were smart this time and blocked off the Maternity Ward so we could go ahead and move her into her own section of the coop on Day 8. Last year the eggs started hatching earlier than expected and we already had one chick hatched when I was out there at 6:30 one evening stapling chicken wire to divide the main run from the newly build section. We had to move Mama, newborn baby, and the rest of the eggs in a scramble. This year, experience has led to Mama being comfy and cozy in her own space, my not worrying about her doing her job, and my husband becoming the worrywart. This time he's the one who is checking on her three times a day. Oh, the difference a year makes.