Katie's Journal

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The Duck Hatch

by @ 2:08 pm on December 25, 2014.

Finally getting back to blogging to tie up some loose ends. I seriously do not know how it’s the end of December already. Wow. Anyway, last I left things there were duck eggs in the incubator. To tell this story takes a little background. Starting with, the stupid hound dog drives me batty.

As it turns out, the stupid hound dog is only figuratively stupid. She’s actually quite smart. Really.

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She has figured out how to open the screen doors in back and get in the house. She is too smart for her own good, and knows to only do it when we’re nowhere around. A few days ago, I was discing and Ern was planting corn. So we were both on the farm but not in the house. She broke in the house (again), ate an entire pan of chocolate cupcakes, and somehow caught and killed my pet mouse without taking the cover off the cage (she must have got it up to get the mouse, but it was back on when she was done). Sigh. It gets worse.

On Sami’s birthday when I went to turn the incubator in the morning, I about jumped out of my skin. There was a duckling in there.
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I expected these to be mainly muscovy and cross eggs, which take a little longer to hatch. On top of that, I’ve been so remiss in remembering to turn the incubator, I really didn’t think anything would hatch. But there was a duckling. I had never started the incubator on lockdown. I went ahead and laid the remaining eggs on their sides and cranked up the humidity. I set up a brooder and pulled out the duckling. Oh he was so cute!
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When I opened the brooder to get him out, I was able to see 2 more eggs had pipped. I kept going back in to look. Watching the eggs rock as the cracks in the shell got bigger was really cool. I hated to leave, but Sami wanted to go to the park for her birthday.
We had a great time bike riding and swimming at the park, and then went to Grampie’s house for birthday cake. When we got home, I was finishing up a quick barnyard chore when Ernie comes out and says “you’re not having a good day”. Despite Ernie being sure he latched the screen doors, Ruger broke in the house. She broke into the brooder cage and ate my duckling. The garbage was strewn everywhere, there were eggs broken all over the floor, and she’d spilled a jar of something all over the floor. What a mess. But the worst was she’d gotten into the office and into my incubator. I dealt fairly well with the loss of my hatched duckling, thinking I still had the two pipped in the brooder. But when Ernie came back and said Ruger had been in the incubator… Oh I was so upset.
We cleaned up the mess. There was water and broken egg shells everywhere. There was 1 egg broken on the floor – it wasn’t fully developed and wouldn’t have hatched anyway. Of the 4 remaining eggs, one was pipped. I assumed it was now dead and proceeded to clean up. But as I did, I heard chirping. I started to break the little guy out of his shell. At one point it looked like he’d started bleeding, and I’d read that as a sign to stop. So I got the incubator back running and put him and the  3 other unbroken eggs back in. It was hard, but I let him be for the night. I checked the next morning, and he hadn’t made any progress. I was able to very carefully break him on out of the shell. By some miracle, a second egg hatched as well.
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The two ducklings turned out to be Pekin females. I was amazed at how fast they grew.
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At first when I let them go they refused to associate with the rest of my ducks. But now with winter here they’ve decided they can be 1 big group. Every morning they trek up to the calf barn to get their daily corn ration. So in all, my first incubator experience was a success. Sawdust eggs, blasted hound dog and all.

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