Monday, July 27, 2009

Here a duck, There a duck, Everywhere a duck, duck....

My respect for female ducks took on a whole new prospective in the 15 days that followed the taking of Fuzzy’s eggs under our supervision. With Kalie’s hands-on experience from her classroom and the incredible plethora of information we downloaded from the internet we set course to hatch a few ducklings.

I was simply amazed at the things a mother duck- to-be knows about hatching her babies without ever reading a book. It was a true eye opener as to the intense work that it requires as she sits up to 28 days on her nest only coming off to grab a quick drink of water and any nourishment she can consume quickly.

So now I was the mom and I had to attend to the eggs and make sure they were turned several times a day and that the temperature was constant. Kalie, Tyler and I probably overdid the candling ordeal a bit because we were just so curious and wanted to watch the ducking growing inside the egg. We were just amazed at the pulse and the growth was so fast as it took up the space inside the egg. It was hard to stay away from the incubator and I feared we would handle the eggs way too much.

To make sure the eggs were turned correctly I marked them with an X so that I could tell if I had turned them all equally. It really could be very confusing. I couldn’t imagine how a mother duck could tell which of her eggs she had turned and keep track of it all. It was such a complicated ordeal.

One of the weekends during the incubation period we were scheduled to go to our lake home and I was frantic at what to do with the eggs. Who could I get to baby sit our eggs and how could I ask anyone to do such a tedious chore? I was sure that only I could make sure they were cared for properly. At my neighborhood Wal-Mart store we found a device that would plug into the cigarette lighter in my car and into the incubator therefore keeping the correct temperature while in transit. So off we went on our weekend trip with our eggs and all was well.

We were pretty sure we had the days of incubation correct as we logged our progress and watched the growth of the embryo in the egg. Wow, it was so neat when we saw the first beak up in the air pocket of the egg we knew the moment of hatching would be in 24 to 48 hours so we prepared a place to receive our new babies. A trip to the feed store for scratch, a water device and a nice plastic tub to keep them warm and cuddly was our mission...

15 Days is not a very long time but those 15 days seemed like a month. We kept the incubator in the extra bed room on a dresser where my dogs Kaci and Angel would not be likely to sniff around. One afternoon my Scotty (husband) decided to take a nap in that room and after a few minutes he came in to announce that he couldn’t go to sleep because the duck eggs were peeping. We ran to check on the eggs and sure enough they were peeping loud and clear. It was such fun to hear them peeping inside the eggs. I checked the eggs and discovered that one had its first crack.

We settled in for a long wait as the ducklings worked so hard to free themselves from their shells. Ever so slowly the babies broke free and uncurled and struggled to stand and finally huddled together as they became dry and fluffy. The kids cheered each hatching and logged the time of hatching and gave each duckling a name.

My job was just beginning. Raising the baby ducks would prove to be a real laborious time consuming task.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The incubator with Fuzzy's eggs.

An Egg-stra special adventure.

Our four ducklings grew quickly and were happy and content at their lake home. Blue was in heaven being the only male duck with three female ducks and he played his role as protector and warrior with gusto. The mallards that flew in from time to time were kept at bay with his vigorous attacks. The girls started nesting the second spring and it was interesting to see the places they chose to nest. Rue chose my neighbors yard to the south, Speedy decided to nest across the lake in the tall grass and sweet Fuzzy decided to nest across the busy street in the neighbor’s flowerbed.

The neighbors were delighted to have Fuzzy and promised to watch her close and try to help me with getting her safely across the street when she wanted food and water from the lake. It all went well for a couple of weeks.

Rue really never sit her nest just layed her eggs and went about business as usual. Speedy was very serious about her nesting. When she came off her nest for nourishment it was fast and furious and then back across the lake to take care of her eggs.

Fuzzy was really a good mom and took her nesting duties serious, but it was like watching a teenage mom torn between her nesting duties and wanting some fun time. I was only aware of her evening trips across the street to the lake and didn’t realize that she was crossing in the early morning darkness when the neighbors in their big SUV’s were heading off to work.

One morning I went out to check on Fuzzy and found her pretty much squashed in the street. She had tried to cross the street and had been struck several times. I frantically called my daughter Jamee to come over to give me help in disposing of her body. We dug a grave and buried her across the lake. Kalie and Tyler were right there with us helping and were very concerned about the eggs. We had no idea how long she had been off the nest and we knew keeping the eggs warm was critical.

Fortunately Kalie had gone through egg hatching 101 at school and knew just what to do. She suggested candling the eggs to see how far along the ducklings were and if they were alive. We determined that 14 eggs were alive and well and they were about 2 weeks into gestation. At that point Jamee took off to go buy an incubator to hatch the eggs. She came home with the incubator and the adventure was about to begin. We just hoped that the temperature of the eggs had not been too low for too long..

Friday, June 5, 2009

Moving on up to Edmond..

Moving from Queensgate to Cordillera Way was a fast, furious body aching move. However my new home (built by my great Nephew, Jeff Click Homes) was quite beautiful and unique and I fell in love with my new dwelling right away. The pond in the back was certainly not what I was used to but it was a pond after all.

As we settled into our new home I began to really miss the ducks and geese that had been such a fun part of my life. Soooo I decided to gather my daughter and her children and pay a visit to the feed store to see what we might find to paddle around on our Pond. (Meaning ducks of course)
We were in luck! We returned home with 4 sweet baby ducks. The owner of the feed store wrote down the type of ducks they were but we soon forgot the names and truly loved the sweet babies and were amazed at how much trouble baby ducks could be in the process of getting them big enough and smart enough to dodge all the predators that would love nothing more than to make a nice meal of a tasty little duckling. With no mom to teach them all the things they needed to survive, we became fully responsible to keep them safe from the hawks, owls, turtles, cats and all the critters that roam around looking for food at night. Domestic ducks after all, cannot fly so they are really in danger.
A hawk waiting for his prey from my back fence.

An owl checking out the area.

Fuzzy, Speedy, Blue and Rue became the center of attention for quite a few weeks as we took care of our four babies. They were housed in the garage at night and in a safe pen in the back yard during the day. I bought them their own little plastic swimming pool to play in until they could be taken to the pond for their first adventure. It became evident all too soon that they were a full time job. We would gather them up in a little container and carry them to our lakehouse when we went for the weekends. They were well traveled ducks. I was indeed their mom.

Rub a dub dub four ducks in a tub

Growing and loving the lake moss.

Still love our baby food from mom.

They were at last feathering out and we had hope that soon they could be freed to the pond area on their own. Each day we would herd them down to the pond to a small pen placed half in the water and half on shore and let them play and get used to the lake water safe from harm. They were truly innocent and full of fear of everything new. At last they were ready and eager to be free and it came time to turn them loose and just hope they stayed safe. Ok so I went out in the night several times to check on them. They were smarter than I thought. They made it just fine.

Full grown and beautiful. Rue, Fuzzy, Speedy and Blue.

Till next time, Lisa

Friday, April 17, 2009

Livin On the Wild side..

Our story begins before the birth of Pepsi and it will bring us to his current adventures.

Life on Queensgate Rd. was peaceful and ideal. The lake behind our house was beautiful and full of ducks and geese of all kinds. My two favorites were a couple of Trumpet Geese that I called George and Martha. George was pretty mean during the spring mating, nesting season and I was the only person he did not try to peck. To use the word peck to describe George's bite is certainly an inadequate description. He left huge purple whelps on a lot of legs in the neighborhood. There were a few children that really deserved to get a peck from old George. It was a common thing for the kids to taunt him with sticks and get him in a fury. At times he got so upset that the site of those kids would set him off and I have seen him get a running start with wings a flapping heading straight for those kids. So of course parents complained that George was dangerous and should be done away with. I knew is was inevitable. George and Martha would at some time disappear and of course that is exactly what happened. First Martha and then George. NO TRACE. I had my suspicions who the culprits were.

The time I spent with George and Martha was a valuable learning time for me. Martha, bless her heart would always find a place in one of my flower beds to make her nest and would sit on that nest until the eggs would simple explode from rot. Martha never experienced the hatching of her eggs.

As a mom, I could imagine her grief as we would force her away from her nest to clean it out. She was so angry at us and cried out for hours. Craig our vet explained that good old George had a fertility problem. Well, they were a happy couple just the same and George was a great mate who took really good care of Martha.

George spent a lot of time on my front porch pecking on my glass door begging for food. He was quite the pan handler. My house had a lot of windows in the back and if he could not see me through the front door he would go around to the back and peck on the back windows. I will add here that wherever geese walk there is always a large amount of droppings left behind. Although there was a lot of fun with the geese, it could get very messy and I washed down the sidewalks constantly.

The first year Martha made her nest in the front flower bed was really hectic. I kept a broom handy to hold George at bay when my grand-kids,(Tyler and Kalie) or any visitors came to the front door. He was such a warrior on Martha's behalf. He was the champion of the family. You know, the way men are meant to be. Funny how animals can be more gallant and heroic than some humans.

Why am I telling you about George and Martha? Because being up close and personal with them gave me a great insight to their life and it taught me the really beautiful side of nature that pertains to wild foul.

After George and Martha disappeared it was a little easier to leave my beautiful lake home and move to a new home and a new adventure. That story we will begin next time.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Let me introduce you to Pepsi.

Let me introduce you to Pepsi. He is now in his third year and life is tough for him. Pepsi lost his sight in his first year of life and has fought and struggled to live an everyday ducks life with his siblings at his lake home. Life however is not easy or ordinary. But he has courageously struggled each day to be a part of his family. I hope you enjoy his story.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Adventures of Pepsi Coming to this blog soon!

This is the true story of the birth and adventures of Pepsi, a beautiful duckling that lost his sight and still fought to be a part of his flock. His determination and indurance is truly amazing.