Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy Days

Annie brought Luke on Wednesday and it's been non-stop fun.  The weather goes from hot sun, to rain, mostly rain, to muggy.  Does not deter our activities.  We hike up to the pond,  work in the barn, hang out and watch movies, play with doggies, eat watermelon.  We stayed on the farm yesterday and explored around the barnyard.  We spied a duck laying an egg on a pile of eggs.  When she left we collected them for hatching.  Luke loves ducklings.  Two nests were started this spring, but, for some unknown reason, the mothers abandoned them and scattered the eggs.  Perhaps something started them, or the male ducks became jealous of all the attention the moms were paying to the eggs.  The farm is busy with mother hens parading around with chicks in all stages of development, but Luke wanted ducklings.  We set up a hatching box under a light in the living room, vowing to turn them regularly the way a mother duck would do.   Low and behold, in the driveway this morning, there she was.  A Swedish Blue duck with a clutch of baby ducklings.  Matt called me out to see it and what a thrill.  They must have been hatched this morning.  Matt pointed out one lying on it's back, kicking a little, unable to get up.  Mom didn't like our attention and immediately called the babies away, under the trailer.  The handicapped one would be doomed if left there among all the hungry cats and chickens.  Guess where it is now?   Under the light in the egg box, along with another one who couldn't keep up with mom.  The weak duckling is sitting up already, two hours later, and the other is chirping away, talking to the warm eggs.  I hope the stimulation will help the eggs hatch more succcessfully.  On deck for this rainy day:

Barn chores.
Travel to Waterville and pick up the weekly grain at the Louis Gale Feed Mill
Continue on to Utica to see the new Superman movie
Eat lunch at Panera
Hit Barnes and Noble
Hit Sally's Beauty Supply
Hit Joann's Fabics for thread

When we leave the farm and head for town we try to get it all done.
Tomorrow is market day, with a party at the Hamilton Arts Center following.  Here's hoping this ridiculous rain will hold off long enough for us to set up.

1 comment:

shepherd said...

Hi Maggie,
Since you don't seem to know much about the process of hatching duck eggs, I thought I might be able to give you a hand. A long time ago, one of my mama ducks was apparently duck napped from a nest she had been tending for about two weeks. (takes four weeks to make a baby duck). We decided to try to save the little buggers, even though every body said it couldn't be done. The shells need to be kept moist or they will become brittle and that will result in a poor hatch ratio. I decided to mimic the antics I had observed in mama ducks and it worked out well for me and the ducklings. I noticed that mother ducks would get off the nest several times a day (I put that at 3-4) and take a dip and come back and sit on the eggs having moistened their down and feathers. I simulated this 'dampening of the eggs' the best I could by dipping each egg for a few seconds ( let's say 20) in a pyrex measuring cup of luke warm water. Also, mom's turn their eggs, when they return to the nest, so I put an 'X' on one side of each egg so I could turn them each time after their dip. For nest material, I put the eggs on a folded towel, which maintained the dampness well.Remember damp is good, wet, not so much. Duck eggs hatch out at a temp of about 102 degrees F. I used a cardboard box with a 60 watt bulb partially covered by a piece of glass, with a candy thermometer to keep the environment about that temp most of the time. You can open or close the glass more or less to regulate the temp. As an added bonus, I looked up candling eggs and at somewhere around the 2-3 week mark you can actually see the baby ducks moving around inside the eggs with a simple light held up to the end. I'm sure you and Luke will love this. We had our duck egg adventure almost thirty years ago and telling you the story is bringing back such wonderful memories of sharing this with my kids.For the job that just couldn't be done we had a nearly 100% success rate. Cutest little Mallard babies, you ever did see. Wishing you and your critters all the best. Bea