Ok, so this is where I'm going to document the journey of so SOOOOO many firsts! To lay some foreground on my story, I am an animal addict, yet we live on the outskirts of town with neighbors literally close enough on both sides I could throw a rock at each house without much effort (not that I would do such a thing). So, we have a 'farmette' of 3 chicken hens, 3 Call drakes, and 1 Call hen (the hen and her choice of drake are segregated to prevent issues), a cat, a dog, 2 hamsters (one dwarf, one Siberian), 2 guinea pigs, and an assortment of saltwater fish. My daughter's, 10 and 7, are addicts as well and I hold them accountable for a lot of the animal chores since they have more time to enjoy them than I do. Here's a list of my firsts: first time having birds (but to be fair we've had them since August 2017 so we're catching on) first time hoping for baby ducks first time negotiating a massive clutch of eggs (most that should not be viable given their age) and getting them to hatch So let's start at the beginning. Back in February (around the first) our call duck hen started laying. Luckily she was being kept inside in a pen with her mate because we may not have realized it otherwise because we only check the chicken coop for eggs. Her mate had a cut on his foot so as luck would have it, her first egg was laid right where we could find it. The two mated several times daily and had been for over a month (we have a smallish pond I dug and lined for them- it was supposed to be for my landscape, but whadya do when ducks take it over and love it) in the pond and when they were in the house we'd put them in the bathtub for several hours a day because the male's cut was causing him to not bear weight on that leg and swimming seemed to help. (Oh goodness... so sorry- I'm terribly long winded so get used to that). Anyhow, so the first 2 weeks worth of eggs I collected and gave to a friend who eats them (we did try a few and the kids couldn't get past the idea that it could have been a duckling). I started collecting eggs from 2/15. They were kept in my basement which is cool and not terribly dry (upstairs is wood heat and REALLY dry). About 2 weeks ago, I placed those eggs, and the others we'd been collecting (when we could find them since she'd lay them all over the place) in our chicken coop with some fake ceramic eggs hoping to entice a chicken to sit on them. Nope, no one was buying that those tiny green eggs were something they wanted to try to hatch . The kids used WASHABLE markers to write the dates on the eggs, lol so last week when I decided to try and see if the duck hen would sit on her eggs (she was really concerned when I went to check her house for new eggs so I thought "why not?") I had no idea which eggs were newer and which ones were from over a month ago! **side note, several- maybe 4 or 5- eggs got eaten by stellar jays when the nesting box door was left open by the kids so those may or may not have been some of the older eggs).** I put ALL the eggs in her house since the incubator was still en route with fingers crossed she'd pick some and sit. SHE DID! That was last Tuesday the 17th. Incubator arrived on Friday and after only having 18 hours to get the hang of adjusting the temp and humidity, she booted 8 eggs out (I think she never sat on them to begin with because they were ice cold and, well, there's more reasons you'll understand later). So, Saturday we put the 8 eggs in and crossed our fingers but I had low expectations. I am using the square plastic 48 egg 'bator' with fan, temp/humidity digital indicators with hi/lo alarm. This one. I found out very quickly that the packaging styrofoam that encases the 'bator' was intended to use as external insulation because that sucker had no way of regulating on it's own- at least not with a house heated by wood fireplace/stove where we have significant environmental temperature fluctuations in the home. Now it's steady and consistent. Well, today my daughter goes to check on our hen and drake. They've been grounded to their house (food and water inside) because she kept abandoning ship and wanted to go play in the pond. When her house door was closed and she was stuck in there she'd stay right on those eggs. My daughter brought the remaining eggs up (9 in total- a couple new one's I believe) because she just couldn't convince the hen to go back to the house and the eggs were still warm (except a couple that were pushed away). This time I marked the eggs with a PENCIL as 3/31 and added them to the incubator bringing our total egg count to... ready?... 17! I realize I'm about a day and a half premature to the 7 day candle schedule, but I couldn't help myself and candled them tonight thinking there's got to be some that are just WAY far gone that I should toss. One. I found ONE egg out off the 17 that have been laid since 2/15 that was dark inside. Another had a small but very obvious blood ring (I suspect it was one of the two that were cold Saturday), and out of the remaining 15, 12 have positive growth and veins, 2 are unknown, and 1 had a shadow that could be a blood ring but it wasn't very dark. TWELVE VIABLE EGGS AFTER ALL THIS TIME???? and all the mishaps?!!! Eggs being shuffled from chicken box (chicken eggs laid on top of them fyi during that time, lol), to duck house, to incubator (and yes, I checked air bubbles and they are all fine). So, this will be the longest post, but I had to bring y'all up to speed. I'm still cautiously optimistic, but it's pretty awesome to see some positive results when you're a newb to it all and have had so many hurdles in the process. Now the only question is... to collect new eggs while I continue to try to convince a chicken to sit on some ceramic eggs? Or to let the hen lay her eggs in her house and let them collect there in hopes she'll come around and decide to sit on them (fyi, her mom hatched the clutch she was in naturally so there's hope for some 'instinct')?