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.