Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 28

Okay. The timeline for hatching ducks is 28 days. Give or take a day or two. I just have to keep repeating this to myself and save the liquid depressant celebration for later, after they are well out of the shell.

But come on, already.

This really is no lesson to impart to the children, staring obsessively at a styrofoam box while picking incessantly at my nails. You're in there, I think, I know you're in there and I'd love to help. Just crack the [expletive(s) deleted] shell and I'm on it.

Okay, I'll wait until it's clear you're not going to make it on your own.

For all of you purists out there who insist that ducks get out of their calcium cages themselves I'm going to point out that I'm going to ignore you. Don't bother telling me that I would be doing the absolutely worst thing possible. These are going to belong to a backyard flock, it doesn't matter if they're less than perfect. I'll also point out that I have midwifed ducklings before -- granted I was twelve or thirteen at the time, but the operations were successful and the poultry all thrived until Mom put them in the stewpot. It can be done. Some of the tidbits I've pulled off of the web in the last six weeks leads me to believe that a perfectly healthy duck or chick might not make it out of the egg because of less than perfect incubation. And darn it, I can't stand to think that a thin (to me) bit of shell is all that stands between life and death. Especially since I've already lost so may otherwise viable eggs to my less-than-perfect home-made incubator. These runners are the last of 13 eggs (6 Appleyard, 7 Runner) that went into that system; I'm going to fight tooth and nail to see that they have a decent chance.

There are highlights to leaven the anxiety. There is some very busy pecking away at the inside of the shell; all I have to do is hold it up to my ear to hear those changes. A couple of days a go it was peck..........peck..........................peck. Today it's like a little featherweight jackhammer in there. I want out, I want out! And there's an addition: peeping. Every once in a while I hear little tiny chirps.

I candled the whole incubated lot yesterday since we're far enough along to see some sort of growth on all of the eggs. I had to throw out 13 of the 36 I had in there, including one that had started to develop but then the shell got cracked. You couldn't see it without a strong light on it. There were one or two that were iffy-looking but I saved them anyway on GP. Because, as luck would have it, when I was candling the two runner eggs that I thought were dead...turns out one of them isn't. Granted, the egg isn't in optimal shape. It has much more airspace on the inside than it should, but that critter is making a go of it. Tap, tap, taptaptaptaptap. I want out!!

28 days. It's a guideline, not set in stone.