Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Baby duck love

It looks like my computer issues are finally resolved. It wasn't the satellite after all, but the router that probably got fried during the big windstorm. My internet service is still slow at times (granted, the signal is travelling up to space) but at least it's not timing out anymore.

And that's great, because tomorrow I'm offering another giveaway sponsored by Penguin Canada.

But before I get to that, I'm going to subject you to a ridiculous number of photos of our new addition: Mrs. Nibbles. Yes, Ella named her.

I was on my barn rounds this morning when I decided to check on Betsy -- the newly-single broody hen who recently kicked out her duck partner Jemima.

I thought I heard some peeping, so I took a quick peek under her skirts.

A just-hatched Muscovy duckling.

Unfortunately, as soon as Betsy saw that her tiny charge wasn't one of her kind, she freaked out a bit and started pecking at her. Given last year's tragedies with our duckling losses, I simply couldn't go through that heartache again, so I quickly scooped up the new hatchling, cupped her between my closed hands and brought her back to the house.

She was still crusty, so I'm thinking she was less than an hour old.

As I wasn't finished the day's editing work, I set up a makeshift brooder in my home office, using a deep plastic bin, some dried grass newly warmed by the sun and my desk light, refitted with an old incandescent bulb that throws off a surprising amount of heat.

It didn't take long before she started fluffing up and looking more duck-like and less on-the-brink-of-death like.

When the kids came home from school, I fabricated some excuse for getting then into my office -- even though I'm usually telling them to get out of my office. It took them a few moments to notice the brooder on my desk (perhaps a testament to just how messy it is in here) but when they did, Ella gasped and Jack broke out into a huge grin.

"Where did this come from?" they asked. Given that I was the kid who brought home wounded birds, stray pets and even tried to convince my parents that the garage was the perfect place to house a horse (in Toronto, no less) -- and never truly outgrew these tendencies -- it seemed a fair question.

"Betsy the chicken hatched her," I said.

"Really?" said Ella. "Wow.... Can I hold her? Please, can I?"

I said yes, but only after they washed their hands, unpacked their bookbags and lunches, and had a snack. We were gone for about 10 minutes, if that, when I hear a "peeping" sound clear across the main floor.

"Maybe she's hungry," said Ella.

"I don't think so," I replied. "Maybe she just misses us," I said with a smile.

Ella and I walked back into my office (nothing gets between Jack and his post-school snacktime) and even from across the room, I could see the brooder was empty. Empty? Where could the duckling have gone? She could barely stand up, let alone fly...

Right. I looked down and there she was, stumbling around my office rug like a drunken sailor.

"Are you my mother?"

Ella dropped to the floor, gathered the duckling in her dress and proceeded to stroke its tiny fragile body. She started chewing on Ella's dress buttons, so I thought maybe we could introduce a bit of food to our new charge.

I was out of the room for all of five minutes.

I guess any creature that comes to live on Rowangarth Farm has to get used to some degree of silliness around here. That and a whole lotta love.


Mama Pea said...

Great big AWWWWW! Do you think another duckling will hatch soon to keep her company? What a perfect "pet" for the kids!

Erin said...

Awwww, she is so cute, and very healthy looking, congrats! I could listen to that peeping all day :)

Fiona said...

Possibly, Mama Pea. I hope so. A few of the eggs had gone off, but there were several that looked good. Fingers crossed!

Lindsay said...

Oh, wonderful and lovely! We have a broody hen hatching chicks for the first time. Two down, 12 more to go!

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