Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Make Way For Ducklings

Looking at the pictures below I recalled the times I've read Make Way For Ducklings to both of my children.  Ahhh happy days.  I think I may just have to hunt it out tomorrow and read it again, although I'm not certain it will be as well received now that they consider themselves to be 'rather grown up'.  Oh, I'm sure they'll indulge me if I ask them very nicely, or alternatively ply them with warm milk and biscuits while I read.

Sarah, one of our beloved Muscovy ducks has been broody for weeks.  Awww bless her, she's been so dedicated.  She's scarcely left the nesting box; I've had to lift her out a couple of times a day and take her to the feed trough and water bowl.  Some hens and ducks will nigh on starve themselves to death and really jeopardise their health by neglecting themselves when brooding.  All her feathers were becoming skanky because she wasn't willing to splash in the pond.

I was so worried about her that I asked at our local wetlands centre whether they had any fertile duck eggs she could hatch.  I was worried that she would just sit and sit on eggs which were never going to hatch, as our only drake believes himself to be a cockerel and only mates with hens *sigh*.  I looked into those sad eyes and just wanted to make it happen for her.  I had it all planned as to how I was going to slip the fertile eggs under her.

A lady at the wetlands agreed to have some fertile duck eggs for me to collect the following week.

Well, anyone familiar with poultry can probably guess the rest.  I collected the eggs yesterday, came home, and there was Sarah grazing in the clover.  I waited but there was no sign of her returning to the nesting box.

So, I had a bag with seven fertile duck eggs on my bench and no broody duck.  Should I bin them and snuff out the little spark of hope within?  Should I get out the incubator and see what materializes in a few weeks time?  Yes, you guessed it.  We now have seven eggs in the incubator and all promises that there was no way in which I would add to my flock this year out of the window.

We occasionally visit a charity which has a farm for children to visit.  They have two ducks in a huge pen.  I'm going to give them a call and see if they could use a ducky donation.  Wish me luck!  We're running out of space in our duck house and there's no way I'm going down the Peking Sauce Route.

The eggs will take about twenty eight days to hatch.  We've not hatched ducks before and it's really quite exciting.  Actually, we've not hatched anything since our killer quail.  I think I was having a bloggy break at the time, but couldn't possibly fill in the gaps and recall that experience in any great detail.  I keep trying to erase their cannibalistic behavior from my mind!

I was under strict instructions from the lady who gave me them not to wash them.  Duck shells are more porous than hen shells and it could affect development.  I only hope that the dirt doesn't introduce nasty germs and also that it doesn't obscure the view through the Ova Scope too much.

On the subject of eggs, I must confess to having woofed up Miles' last solid dark chocolate egg together with some of his raspberries this evening - in his favorite bowl!  It's been a long day and this mama was in dire need of some fruity chocy joy...

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