Babies Everywhere!

Yesterday, I was already thinking Kaitlyn and I should have a slower day - we've been working really hard, and maybe we could just make soap or have a knitting lesson or something. Well, we did make soap - and hatched baby ducks in our hands!

We have 6 turkey hens this year, and no toms, so when 2 of them decided to sit a nest in the rhubarb, we took all the turkey eggs and gave them duck eggs instead.  We've tried this before, and it always results in some very flat, dead baby ducks, but this year I vowed to watch carefully and take the eggs out before they got squished and hopefully find a sitting chicken around or something.  That mostly worked.  We watched very closely all day Wednesday - there was one egg pipping, beak out, and two more with just a crackle.  That held true all day, no matter how many times we pulled them out.  We left for our weekly potluck that evening, and checked when we got back - two with just a crackle and one flat baby :(  The darn turkeys are so heavy and don't get up for the baby!  I'm not sure how turkey babies make it! So anyway, we took the other two eggs to the mama game hen that hatched last Saturday - we have them in a little rabbit hutch - and put the eggs under her to finish up.  

Thursday morning, I checked the duck eggs, and they were off in the corner where the mama had been the night before, but alone and cold, looking exactly the same.  When I picked them up, they tapped and wiggled, though, so I took them in the house and had an interesting conversation with Kaitlyn, resulting in her putting two eggs down her shirt while I milked the goats :)  

We then spent the rest of the morning sporadically making soap, but mostly holding the eggs, talking to them and gently flaking off bits of shell.  They'd been pipped so long, with so many major life changes, that I decided to err on the side of helping too much rather than not enough - the general rule is never help a chick out of its shell.  We were very careful, keeping the edges and membranes moistened so they didn't get shrink-wrapped, and by early afternoon they were mostly out of the shells.  I think we may have been a little early, they still had to finish sucking the yolk in through their umbilicals, but after several hours they finally detached, their fat little hernia-bellies disappeared, and this morning (after a cozy night on the hot water bottle) they're really starting to find their feet.  Once they are sturdy and can walk well, I'm going to put them back out with the game hen and let her finish raising them.  If that doesn't work, a farmer friend is already brooding 18 ducklings another farmer friend hatched out for me last week, so I can add to them if need be.  In the meantime, Malachi is loving the babies!

To top off the flush of little ones (5 chicks, now these ducklings) Caleb found a new heifer this morning when he moved the animals.  We knew Fern would probably be the first to calve this year - it's her first time, so we didn't have any previous calf to be counting roughly a year from for a due date, so we guessed early summer.  She had a beautiful little red girl up and walking around by 6 am, and she appears to be very attentive, not letting the little one get more than about 5 feet away :)  It's always good to see new mamas doing a great job - amazing how well nature usually works when left to it's own devices!


more great news

Would have loved to help hatch the ducklings--great news, thanks so much for writing this up!

It was pretty amazing - I've

It was pretty amazing - I've done it with a chick before but not a duckling. I took some video but I don't have a way of putting it up here. I also got a full goat birth on video this spring, so I just need to film a calf being born next :)

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