Had one of our australorps go broody back in May and decided we'd finally let her sit a batch (we had broken her twice last summer). She had gathered her own eggs, but thinking we might as well add more, we grabbed some from the counter and added to her nest that night. Still, we ended up with a staggered start... Roughly 21 days later (on the 31st), I went out to the coop after work and was rather surprised to see this: 4 healthy, fluffy little mutts! The only problem being that this whole operation had moved down to the coop floor, thus leaving a "few" soldiers behind: Not sure when the hen jumped off to tend to her chicks, but the rest of the eggs were certainly cooled off. Now this is the part of the story where my admitted inexperience comes to play... Not having an incubator to fall back on, I made the decision to test the waters and see if any of the eggs were still alive. Knowing what I do now since researching this the past couple of days, I should have either stuck the eggs under a heat lamp with a moist towel, or back under the hen. However, here's how it unfolded. I grabbed a pipped egg and began opening it. While definitely cool, it was certainly cheeping at me, so I kept on figuring I had nothing to lose since I wasn't expecting them to make it at that point anyways. We ended up doing this with three eggs, two of which were pipped, and one that still was fully intact. Having since shuffled all our various levels of development birds around in the coop, I had freed up the brooder so that new momma could have a secluded place for herself and her new chicks. Well, not having a better idea, I stuck the manually hatched chicks in front of momma and figured I'd see what happened. As for the rest of the eggs: apparently our other australorp had decided to go broody that same night, so figuring what the hell, I stuck them all under her At that point, I came inside, hopped on to BYC, and preceded to learn that I'd probably not made the best decisions in helping the hatch. Oh well I figured, they were prolly doomed anyways, and at least we got 4 for the first time trying. Imagine my surprise when I went out to the coop the next morning and found all three manually hatched chicks very fluffy, seemingly healthy, and running around with the others! Now, remember the staggered hatch and the rest of the eggs that were placed under the second broody? I go out to the coop this morning, and while filling the food and water for our 25 five week old chicks that are currently cordoned off in a dog kennel (inside the coop), two brand new baby chicks pop out of the crowd! Apparently they jumped from the nesting box under momma #2 last night or this morning, and being able to pass right through the dog kennel, decided that's where they should be Well I grabbed them up and stuck 'em in the brooder with the other 7 newbies and momma #1 and so far all seems great!! Now I'm curious how many more of the staggered, cooled off, reheated eggs are going to hatch... Suffice it to say, this whole experience has been packed with mistakes, lessons learned, and simply too cute for words! I'll tell ya one thing... Baby chicks are AMAZINGLY resilient!!