When you let nature do what nature does, you can never be sure when nature will do it! What do I mean by that? Well I wasn’t expecting our nest of duck eggs to start hatching till around the 7th of August. Well, nature decided they were going to start hatching on the 2nd! That’s right, Tuesday morning I woke to a bunch of eggs pipping under our two mamas, Betty and Baby Girl. Pipping is when the duckling pecks a small hole in the egg’s shell to allow oxygen in.
Dispite being good mamas to their new herd, I am a little mad at Betty and Baby Girl. You see when they took off into the yard with their army of fluff, they left a few eggs unhatched in the nest. After a quick candling, we discovered two were bad (wouldn’t hatch) but three were still alive. I guess these late developers didn’t get the hatching memo. *sigh* Time for my duckling midwifery skills!
We took the three good eggs into the house, placed them in a bowl with a towel, heating pad and a sponge for moisture. And the waiting began……. Heidi the homestead hound took up her position as nurse, and she stayed by that bowl. If there was peeping from inside the eggs, she would leap up and stick her nose under the towel. I think she was as worried as I was.
Nature knows what it is doing, most of the time. Maybe these eggs weren’t meant to hatch, maybe Betty and Baby Girl knew that and that is why they abandoned them. But we have a special spot for special needs critters around here. You have to be a little odd to be part of our homestead, so I promised the country kids I would do everything in my power to help these little ones hatch.
The hard thing about helping an egg hatch is that you are sometimes damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You see, ducklings (and chicks) pip, then they rest for around 24 hours while they absorb the yolk into their abdomen. There are a LOT of little blood vessels running through the membrane until the yolk is absorbed. If you try to intervene too soon, you could cause them to bleed out. If you wait too long to help, they could become so weak they just can’t make it. While we did have a little blood, I did manage to get one duckling out this morning, safe and sound!
As it stands this Friday morning (36 hours after the first signs of hatching) we have 14 ducklings running around the yard with Mom, Mom, and Dad. We have 1 duckling who has hatched inside, one half in half out of the shell and one that hasn’t pipped yet, but is still moving in the egg. Can I just say, I am exhausted! But then when you look at the cuteness of these little guys, it is all worth it in the end.