The incubation period is now a little over half gone. I tried candling the eggs but couldn't see much; probably my flashlight isn't strong enough for those thick brown shells. Some of the eggs are quite a bit lighter in weight than the others and I think the light ones are probably dead. We still hope to have a few good chicks out of the deal. Watch them all be boys, though. (Thanks to the Neighbors Who Hate Us, we can't keep any boys.)
I wish The Girls would go broody. Any time I DON'T want them broody I can't get them off the nests; now, when it would be great to turn the incubating over to professionals, they have no interest whatsoever in their nests, spending their days pacing the wire of their pen and longing to run around on fresh green grass. One hen did spend a few minutes snuggling with one egg the other day, but when I took it away, she just shook her feathers into order, sort of a chicken shrug, and hopped down out of the nest. No growling, no puffing up and glaring, which is what they do when they want to brood.
Something was tunneling under the wire and stealing eggs from the nests. Not sure what it was. I thought possum, but whatever it is, it's active during the day. So maybe a rat. It didn't bother the hens. Too smart, which also makes me think rat; whatever it was had figured out where the eggs were coming from and wasn't about to kill the golden, um, chicken, that was laying those delish eggs. The hens were so used to whatever it was that they weren't even scared. No alarm clucks, or I would have figured things out quicker than I did. We dug down deeper and put wire down lower to keep the critter out and all of a sudden I started finding eggs in the nests again. I am getting one egg a day now from somebody; a couple of days ago there were THREE eggs. My girls are getting pretty old for laying. They'd make wonderful mothers, though, if they would just get into the mood.
Update: Another 3-egg day today! Not bad for a trio of old ladies!