Baby Chickens on the Family Farm

A Wisconsin woman talks about hatching baby chickens in an incubator with her mother in the 1930s

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Every spring in the 1930s, my mother, Mary, would set up an incubator in our living room on the farm to hatch baby chickens. She would light the kerosene lamp that heated the water, which circulated through the incubator. There were pipes throughout the incubator for the warm water to go through.

There were two trays of eggs in the incubator. Each day Mother would pull out the trays and carefully roll the eggs with the palms of her hands. Once a week she would" candle" the eggs. To do this, she would hold each egg up to a special light to see if it was fertile and a chick was developing inside. If not, the egg was destroyed.

After a few weeks, little chicks appeared in the windows of the incubator. When they were dry and fluffy, Mother would "fence" off a corner of the living room with boxes. That was their home until they could go out to the brooder house.

What fun it was to have little baby chicks in the house. But

Mother would remind us, "Be careful, don't squeeze them."

Katherine A. Pearson
Siren, Wisconsin


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.