I thought the ducks were fun before, now it’s spring and they are even more entertaining. They are always keeping us guessing. To us they have a pen, they are to share with the goats. It worked well all winter long. Last fall I put chicken wire around the whole pen to keep them in. That worked well until Mike moved a panel so Hank could have access to the barn for winter. The chicken wire had to be removed from that panel and was never replaced. The ducks found their way out. It worked out fine actually. They had been in the goat pen long enough to know that that was home. They would go for a walk and be back again.
My concern with letting them wander about is that they would meet the same demise as any loose chicken, guinea keet, or turkey… Death by dog.
I don’t know what your two year old was doing at 6 in the morning, but mine was insisting that she go out and feed the “aminals”.
So out we went.
I really enjoy having the quiet early morning barn time to myself but I really want to continue to encourage the kids to work with the animals and like doing chores. I expect them to help around the farm, they start with easy chores- feeding the dogs, putting silverware on the table and such. They are encouraged to come with to collect eggs and be around when we feed the large animals. There is very little coaxing needed when it comes to the animals. It’s usually harder to keep them out of the pen than anything else.
What a weekend on the farm! Our duck eggs that I had marked on the calendar to start hatching on Saturday, started Friday morning. It was quite exciting. We all happened to be home and huddled around the incubator peering into the little windows watching with great anticipation of the shell bursting open and our first duck falling out.
Through the night Lucky (the duck) pecked his way around the top of the shell. Mike noticed the cracks and some movement early Friday morning and from then on, “duckling watch” had begun. Everyone checking in any time we happened to walk by… so all the time. It wasn’t too long and the Little Boy was on the bench with his nose to the glass watching and the top of the shell popped off and a tiny duck head peeked out. There looked like a bit of a struggled for a few seconds to which our little guy, who was quite concerned exclaimed “Help him!” “We can’t buddy. He needs to get out of his shell by himself.” That was not the answer he was looking for but kept watching anyway. With a little more effort Lucky was out! Barely standing and very wobbly we had our first egg hatch.
Did you know ducklings can live for a couple days without food or water?! That’s how they can be shipped without provisions. I did not know this. It was after a text to a friend who know everything there is to know about poultry that I learned this. You are not supposed to remove the bird from the incubator until everyone that should hatch did. It is very important to keep it humid in there or the babies can get stuck in their shell. Lucky came out that evening regardless. Our house is so dry we needed to add water anyway. So one added water while the other grabbed the duck.
The next morning Tallulah broke out of her shell. Just as the day before, she was greeted with great anticipation and excitement… in fact we were all a little late for where we needed to be because of it. Three more emerged on Sunday morning while we were at church, for a total of three blue and two fawn Runner Ducks. I am holding out hope that at least one chocolate one will hatch; I was really hoping for that color, but we will see I guess.
There are six eggs left to go. One was chirping and moving so hopefully we will see that one soon. That would bring us to our fifty percent hatch rate, which is what I was hoping for. We will give the rest a couple more days and see what happens. If none of the chocolates hatch this year, maybe we will try again next year.
UPDATE: A chocolate one hatched during the night! We have two fawn and two chocolate left to possibly hatch!
It has been a week since the eggs arrived. I was asked by almost everyone that I told we were getting duck eggs “How do they ship those?” To which I had the great reply of “In an egg carton in a box? Maybe?”
They were shipped in a large box with bubble wrap and a thick foam pad that had holes punched out. Each egg was carefully wedged in a hole and in pencil noted what color of duck should come out of the egg. I liked the labeling; it’s much easier than the guessing game of which chick is which when we order live chicks. Questions answered.
The day after the eggs arrived, they were put into the incubator. They are supposed to sit for a day, point down just in case the air sack was jarred loose during shipping. The rest allows the sack to reattach to the top of the egg where it belongs from what I hear. The temperature has hovered around 99.5 f. From what I’ve read a steady temperature of 99.8 is needed for the first 25 days of incubation for the duck eggs. Hmm. A quick prayer and duck egg blessing and we are hoping for the best! After the first week you can candle the eggs to check development and remove any unfertilized or dead eggs… again from what I’ve read.
Candling eggs is basically shining a bright light onto each egg, allowing you to be able to see through the shell enough to see what stage in development the potential bird is. You can buy special flashlight type devices made just for this special task… We have not purchased one; go figure (I prefer multi-use tools). I did however candle the eggs the other morning with my own special tool. Using my goose hunting head lamp and an empty toilet paper roll, I had my own task specific egg candling device. Ya’ know what?! It worked well! Next time I will probably cut the roll in half. I don’t think the whole thing is necessary, but it was early and the thought process was still a little slow.
We had ordered 12 eggs- Mike picked out 6 of the fawn color (also known as pencil runners), I really liked the chocolate and the blue, so I picked 3 of each.
After our first week’s candling, from what I can tell there is one fawn that is dead and one blue that wasn’t fertilized or died right away. The rest have the veining that they are supposed to. There may be a couple more that won’t make it. They were a little iffy, so they can sit for another week and we’ll see what kind of progress they make… if any.
This is our first time incubating so by all means this is not meant to instruct, it’s just to note our first time attempting to hatch eggs.
Spring can mean many different things depending on who you ask. From our farm view it is the start of the New Year. It brings baby animals, buds on the trees, blooms on the flowering crab trees, tulips (that I forgot to plant last fall! Ugh!) There’s spring cleaning of the house, yard, barn, flowerbeds, and gardens. It can get really crazy as things come out of winter hibernation. Spring is also a time to slow down and be thankful. That’s right being thankful isn’t limited to one day in November, you know the day before people go to town and fight over the latest gadget.
Giving thanks really should be done daily. In fact many studies have shown that the more one takes note of what they have to be thankful for the happier and more content they are. This is everything from a simple act of kindness, good health, an unexpected phone call from a friend or the orange soda you had for lunch. Every season brings something more to be thankful for and in the spring it’s the resurrection and what that means for us.
The weeks leading up to Easter are observed with fasting, self-reflecting, and most commonly the giving up something; such as the ever popular “sweets” or coffee. It seems like kind of a cop-out really. Give up the same thing every year because it requires no real soul searching or thought; “My pants are tight from Christmas, I suppose giving up sweets would be a good idea.” I’m not saying going without coffee or chocolate cake is an easy task, especially when you are still coming down from the cookie high of the holidays. But really, does it do you any spiritual good? Probably not. I knew a gal that for lent she said she was going to go to church every day for a year. Ho-ly Bananas! God bless her! She did it. I for one, am quite positive that a Lenten task such as that I would be setting myself up for complete failure. I mean done by day two failure.
For the past years, I have skipped the usual giving something up in the coffee sense of it. Instead I donate a minimum of one laundry basket of stuff a week. Yes, I would say the first few years were an easy route. I had a lot of clothes that I didn’t wear, old decorations I didn’t put up and so on. As the years have gone by this has begun to get tougher. I don’t collect nearly as much stuff as I used to and with our small house I have been getting rid of things year round. So each passing year is causing me to dig deeper into some of the things that I hold on to a little more dearly. The family heirlooms aren’t going anywhere but my ever growing book collection, cookbooks especially, I hate to part with for example. Going through the shelves is a sacrifice for me. But there is still not much in the spiritual department so to speak.
In addition to my usual (not quite) daily readings I have added a few other quiet tasks to my Lenten list. I needed something more, something that would teach. Something not just for me but for the family as a whole. With tiny ones (1 and 2 years old) teaching the concept to Easter is a tough one. The little boy knows the story of Christmas. He can tell you who’s who in the books and nativity scenes, (some of which are out all year in our home, a gentle reminder). He will tell you Joseph had to sleep in the barn and Mary had baby Jesus. There were animals, angels and shepherds and so on. Easter, on the other hand, seems harder to teach this age. He can learn the story but the story is a violent journey ending in joy that is not quite comprehensible for such a little mind.
We do put a small gift or two in the stockings and one gift from Santa but try to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas. It’s easier with Christmas. It’s a happy story for the entire journey. Easter, comes with bunnies, jelly beans and Easter egg hunts and a man being killed on a cross and then rising from the dead. Such violence is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced something more violent than a flick on the mouth for talking back or a time out. The crucifix in our living room is looked at with a puzzled look when he is told “that’s Jesus”. He hasn’t thought about why Jesus is up there or how he got there or the pain and suffering that put him there.
The rebirth, and new beginnings can symbolized in some of what has become another over-commercialized holiday but it can be found. Empty plastic eggs compared to an empty tomb, bunnies and baby chicks to new life or candy as a celebration for fasting. Ok that last one is a stretch but you get the picture.
Our dining room table always has a center piece and for the Lenten season it is an empty patch of dirt, with a cross of nails and a small cave. Jesus is sad for these weeks, there is no green grass or pretty flowers. When we talk back or push our sister it makes Jesus sad and the empty dirt is a reminder to be nice. We water the empty dirt on Friday and tell Jesus we are sorry for the things we shouldn’t have done, what we are thankful for and good deeds we did. These are simple things- talked back, threw a toy not meant for throwing, thankful for a warm house and family, we helped put the books back on the shelf and set the table.
A week and a half or so before Easter the dirt is heavily seeded with grass seed. As we continue to water during reflection time grass begins to sprout. On Easter morning, the grass is full and green and there might be a butterfly or flowers. Jesus is happy and we are too.
It’s the least violent way I could think of to teach about this season to a toddler. The repent for our sins is made into as simple terms as possible. We are learning to take ownership of our actions and acknowledge all that we have been giving.
Don’t get me wrong, come Easter morning their baskets will be “hidden” with a treat, a dyed egg and new toothbrush. The Easter bunny will have come and left a couple dishes of special candies and with any luck there may be an egg hunt later in the day. We can have the “bunny fun” as a side note of Easter and not the center of attention.
(We always got a new toothbrush from Santa and the Easter Bunny. Give one for Halloween and you know everyone is getting a fresh brush a few times a year anyway.)