It seemed like such a great idea at the time . . .
Of course, thats how the recounting of nearly every misadventure I have ever survived begins. In this case, the seemingly good idea was a home school science project: hatching duck eggs in an incubator. A month later, the main thing we have learned is that a Styrofoam box is a very poor substitute for a mama duck.
Our first attempt was thwarted when the incubator over-heated and roasted the half dozen fertile duck eggs a week or so into the project. TAKE TWO: we relocated the incubator, experimented a bit more with heat settings, and loaded it with 10 eggs. We were hoping to end up with 3 ducks, and we knew that in order to make sure wound up with at least a couple girls we would have to shoot for more than that, and I knew we would doubtless have a couple culls, still, with TEN EGGS I wondered what I would do with the extras.
For three weeks the Boy and I carefully monitored the eggs: regulating the temperature, turning them every 4 hours round the clock, candling them to chart their progress and make sure they were still developing. One-by-one, eggs went bad for one reason or another, until there were only 6, of which we were only hopeful about a couple. The first one hatched , but had not absorbed the yolk, and died almost immediately. This happened just before the Boy went for one of his irregularly scheduled visitations with his dad on Saturday. What a wretched send off!
Thing 152,000 I hate about getting divorced: not being able to count on the Boy being here for sacred and mundane moments. The second duckling hatched on Monday with little difficulty (although it took forever!) in the Boys absence. After a month's lead up, and one tragedy, he missed the first healthy hatching. grrr. Happily, the Boy was welcomed home by a fluffy and very alive duckling, and was here for the second, and last, "live hatch" today --and theres no worries about what to do with the extras. We try to focus on the positive, even if we don't always succeed
They are are adorable to an extreme that defies description, and the older one, nic-named "Seven" for the number on her egg shell, has been a solicitous and nurturing "big sister" from the moment the younger one arrived (we are hoping that "she" is a she, or that at least one of them is, because duck eggs are so lovely). 'Seven's' displays of effection include sitting on top of her sisters head, just hoping the little one survives all the affection, the little one is still a bit weak and flimsey. We tried seperating them, by placing the younger on in a tuperwear "isolation unit" within the incubator, but seven kept scrambling in and landing on our patient, which we figured was more dangerous than just letting them cuddle. Hope she can beath under her sister's fluffy butt . Will post photos soon.