First let me start by saying that I found this site a few weeks before we got our first chickens. I spent hours on here researching and really appreciate te wealth of information. I did wonder whether it was really as addicting as everyone said. Just to give a little background ... my daughter and I attended our state's 4H Forum last October. Although her project has always been horses, we attended a session on a Dept of Agriculture program and she wanted to do chickens. We investigated the program and decided it wasn't for us, but we did decide we wanted to start chickens. So ... Bought an existing flock of 6 (buff orpington, 3 easter eggers, golden laced wyandotte, black sussex) and the next day bought 10 barred rock pullets who weren't quite laying, but close), then about 3 months ago we added a barred rock rooster. About 6 weeks ago we bought what was supposed to be a broody hen (rhode island red) but she ended up just to be in the beginning of molt. We really wanted to hatch some eggs, so about 4-5 weeks ago we bought a Brinsea Octagon 20 incubator and decided to hatch some eggs. A couple of days after setting the eggs we decided we really wanted white egg layers (because my grandmother will only eat white eggs and at 85 yrs old she deserves fresh eggs). So we bought 12 white egg layer pullets that were hatched the first part of June ... a few are white rock, white orpington, but mostly white leghorns. We also acquired a Serama/brahma cross rooster with that (not sure why). (Answer to my initial wondering ... YES it is as addictive as they say). We started with a 5'x9' chicken house and 18'x32' yard and have now added 2 smaller hen houses with 2 12'x24' yards so we can keep the flocks separate. But back to my hatching story ... Since I am somewhat date challenged, we decided to set the eggs on Sept 1st (by the way, I would recommend this to ANYONE ... really helps to keep your dates straight). The eggs were from the mixed flock ... mostly barred rock eggs, 3 easter eggers and one golden laced wyandotte). We had purchased the incubator off of craigslist ... the previous owner had hatched parrots in it for his petstore (which they hadn't owned for a couple of years). It came with the autoturner, but the thermometer was difficult to read and it didn't have a hygrometer so we went to walmart and bought a small digital one that did both. We cleaned the incubator up, read and re-read the manual and ran the incubator overnight. I was AMAZED at how steady the thermastat was ... with only a slight adjustment we were able to keep the temperature at 99.4-99.6. The humidity was dealt with by putting distilled water in one of the wells, but I thought the humidity wasn't quite high enough so I put a very small amount of water in the second well. So we set the eggs in the incubator and realized there was still more space ... can't have empty space in an incubator! But we were out of eggs and it was already the late afternoon of Sept 1st. So we went to the refrigerator and pulled out 4 more eggs. I know it says you shouldn't use refrigerated eggs, but I figured what the heck, it would be a test. We monitored the incubator and the temp and humidity were holding very well! However, we decided the egg turner wasn't. It was making noise like it would be, but we didn't really notice any kind of rotation. So we decided we'd turn them ourselves. The incubator is set up quite nicely for this with it's many flat sides. So every evening we rotated it back and in the morning rotated it towards the front. Did I mention we were hugely attached to watching the incubator? It sat on my daughter's bedside table the entire time. So we anxiously awaited for day 3 so we could candle. We spent that time researching for hours on the internet so we could figure out how to do it and what we should be looking for. We candled on day 3 and went "hmmm"; no idea what we were looking for and the flashlight we were using wasn't very effective. Day 5 (because we were trying to contain ourselves to candling every other day) ... "ahhh" now we see something a little more. 3 of the eggs were definitely not the same as the others and since I'd read about bad eggs exploding in the incubator we weren't taking any chances. Those 3 eggs were culled. Well ... we couldn't just toss them out ... we homeschool so we decided to use this as a science class (recognizing the risk of us never eating eggs again depending on what was in there) and cracked them open. Nope ... nothing to see. Two of these were the refrigerated eggs ... no surprise there. The other one, well, who knows. So we turned and we candled and we waited. About the 18th, I asked so when did we set these eggs? How much longer do we have does anyone know? We talked over what was going on around the time we set them and then I went "DOH" ... I set them on the 1st so this wouldn't happen! Oh my ... we're going to have chicks in just a couple of days and we don't have a brooder set up yet! So ... more hours spent on researching brooders. Decided to use the 8x12 building we'd recently gotten as a nursery. On the 20th we finally got everything put together. 20th ... wasn't really sure if it was going to be the 21st or the 22nd ... but figured we'd wake up to chicks for sure on the 22nd. So the evening of the 20th arrives and my daughter comes running into my room and says I hear chicks! We all run into her room to the incubator and listen and we can hear chicks! We can see a couple of the eggs have little tiny indentations (outward) and we've got PIPPING! So we take out the egg tray dividers and start anxiously awaiting. Being the momma that I am ... I get up every hour to go look at the incubator in her room ... I can't sleep ... I can hear the pipping even in my bed in my own room and it is driving me crazy. I am starting to realize the intelligence in deciding to have the brooder in the shed outside because I would NEVER get sleep if they were in the house like we originally thought. 21st ... still pipping .... hours of research on just how long this takes. Oh ... and for those of you wondering, the answer is: it takes as long as it takes ... just like having a human baby. 3:30 am on the 22nd ... I go in to look and see 2 baby chicks looking out at me through the window! WOO HOO WE'VE GOT CHICKS! I go back to bed. All day on the 22nd we watch and check in (and put the finishing touches on the brooder). My friend who has lots of experience in hatching comes over and looks at what we have set up and laughs. "You do realize these are little tiny chicks and all they need is a cardboard box" she says. Well ... that's ok ... they'll like our set up too. She reports that her average hatch is about 50% and you know the phrase ... "don't count your chickens before they hatch" has a whole new meaning for us now. By the end of the evening on the 22nd we have 9 chicks and a bunch more working on it. We move the 9 chicks from the incubator to the brooder. And we watch ... and we count the number of eggs pipping ... four still haven't shown anything. Chicks are coming out about every hour. We leave them in the incubator overnight (we've been removing the empty egg shells, so there is plenty of room). In the morning of the 23rd, we find a bunch more chicks and move them into the brooder throughout the day as they dry; this makes 15 chicks in the brooder. There are two wet chicks and one egg that is pipping and two with no action yet. So we wait ... Early afternoon we go in to check on that last pip and lo and behold EVERY ONE of the eggs has hatched! Holy smokes! We've got the happy dance going on at our house! We check the chicks every couple of hours and raise and lower the lamp at night and during the day (it's been pretty warm during the day so we had to raise it) and as of this morning all of our chicks are happy and still alive! If I knew how to attach pictures, I would, but this is already long enough! Maybe I'll do some searches to see if I can find instructions ... I don't see an attach file button.