This spring and into the summer has been a battle of epic proportions. Our two female ducks kept hiding nest, trying to make another bid for motherhood. I was winning this battle, finding four or five nests before they began to incubate them. I was feeling rather proud of myself for staying on top of these broody ladies for once.
Betty, my older female, finally decided to give up. She knew I was serious when I said no duckling this year. Her daughter however had different ideas and made one more bid for motherhood, right under my nose, almost in plain sight. She was a master of covering her nest with just enough straw to keep me from noticing until it was too late.
Yes, I was duped by a duck! By the time I found out what Baby Girl was up to, it was too late. She had already started sitting on the nest, and the eggs had already started to develop. I did not have the heart to toss developing eggs, so with a deep sigh, I let her sit. I had no idea how far along the eggs were, or when the ducklings would hatch, so for the last few weeks, I shot her dirty looks and she beamed with pride.
She had five eggs in her nest, but one of them was obviously bad. It smelled something awful, so I had to toss it. If it exploded under her, it would put the other eggs at risk. Then our alpha hen (chicken) Buffy decided that since Baby Girl hadn’t cleared this flock expansion with her, she was going to try to attack the eggs any time baby girl got up. She did manage to peck one of the eggs, but it appeared to continue to develop, so I left it in the nest and hoped for the best.
When the eggs started to pip (hatch) Baby Girl got a little agitated, at everything. I had gone in to water the rabbits and lock everyone down for the night and she lost her mind. I guess “labor” makes us all a little nuts. She began stomping around and managed to squish an egg, knocking some of the shell off. I was frantic! This egg may have pipped but is was NOT ready to hatch just yet and the damage to the shell put it at risk, so I sprang into action, doing the only thing that came to my mind….
Yup, I wrapped that little egg in a Saran Wrap band-aid. Now I had two special needs eggs! Even though I was against this “pregnancy” from the start, I was going to do everything I could to make sure these little eggs had a fighting chance at life!
With the egg was partially covered in Saran Wrap, I slipped it back under Baby Girl. I had no idea if this was going to work. As I crawled into bed that night, I tossed and turned, hoping that the duckling would still be alive in the morning. It was so close to hatching, I would be devastated if it didn’t make it.
The next morning when I checked the egg, it not only was alive, but making progress on hatching! I could see its little bill sticking out of the shell and when I checked the Saran Wrap band-aid, it was holding. Not only was it holding in place, but it was doing a dang good job of keeping bacteria out and moisture in. I could see the moisture on the plastic wrap!
Moisture is so important when an egg is hatching. If the membrane inside the egg dries out too fast it can kill the chick or duckling. It becomes like a straight jacket on them and they struggle, become exhausted, and die. Luckily the Saran Wrap was holding the moisture in this little one’s shell beautifully!
I checked on the egg every hour, just to make sure it wasn’t drying out or having difficulty. Around 10 am I noticed it was pushing, trying to exit the egg, but the scotch tape I had put on to hold the plastic wrap in place was impeding it’s progress. I got a pair of scissors so I could cut the tape and……
It hatched right in my hand! At that moment I knew I just had to name it Saran Wrap! The egg that had been pecked weeks before hatched, and I dubbed it Crack Head. What can I say, I’m messed up sometimes. By 2 pm all four of Baby Girl’s eggs had hatched. We were four for four!! And even though I was against more ducklings, I was over the moon for Baby Girl.
That night, flashlight in hand, I checked on Mama, Crack Head, Saran Wrap, and their siblings. They were all dried out, fluffed up, and doing well. Sadly, I can’t tell any of them apart now. It doesn’t matter though, I love them all just as much as if they had all been special needs little eggs! And while I may not have wanted more ducklings this year, I am so glad Baby Girl decided I needed another batch of beautiful babies.