Yesterday, my sister came over with two more eggs so we could try again. I marked the eggs and put them under Gena. She sat on them for about 4 hours, then got up to eat, drink, and...well, you know the rest! lol After a few minutes, she went right back into her box.
I marked on the calender the day we "put them under" Gena, adding the eggs to be hatched all in one clutch. Do not add eggs from day to day as you collect them, and do not add any more after you set the hen. The germ cell of a fertile egg is ready to develop into a chick, but it does not begin to do so until the hen sits on it—that is, maintains constant temperature and humidity at a level sufficient to trigger growth of the embryo. It doesn’t matter if the eggs you set were collected on different days: All the embryos begin to grow at the same time, and they will all hatch on the same day. If you add more eggs after the hen starts incubating the clutch, however, the development of embryos in the new eggs lags behind that of the first eggs, and hatching cannot occur all on the same day—which could lead to disaster. Once you have set your hatching eggs under your broody hen, she will do the rest.
Her baby chicks should hatch somewhere around July 12th. I will be going out every day to make sure that the eggs are being turned. It is a good idea to “candle” the eggs midway through the incubation period. Working by flashlight, remove the eggs one at a time, shining the light through each one. At about day ten, a growing embryo will show as a small pulsing mass at the center of a spider-web of red supply veins. Keep examining eggs until you are sure you recognize a living embryo with its support system. Then it will be obvious when you find a non-living egg—one with only a yolk showing, or a dark mass. Such eggs should be discarded immediately.
If the donor eggs don't work, we may try "grafting" (purchasing day old chicks and slipping them underneath her at night). You can “hold” a willing broody hen on her nest with artificial eggs for 4 or even 5 weeks until your purchased chicks come in. The hen is not counting off days on a mental calendar—she moves on to the next phase when she hears live chicks under her.
I went out earlier this morning and there she was, in her nesting box, just as happy and content as could be.....all was right with the world!