Farm Fowl: A New Year’s Gift

I can honestly say that I have numerous hatches under my belt: chickens, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl. Each hatch is different, and, sometimes, they don’t have good outcomes; fortunately, that’s not how they usually go. The last duck hatch, however, resulted in just one duckling emerging from five developing eggs. What in the world do you do with a single, lonely, duckling…in winter?

The obvious answer is that you raise it. While it’s never ideal to have a single hatchling, I was prepared to make the best of it until the little one grew large enough to join others – a larger group is a month ahead of it, and much bigger, but perhaps in a few months, the size discrepancy would be less noticeable..?

I set the little one up in its own brooder, with a comfy heating pad (Mama Heating Pad style) and a big fuzzy bear to keep it company. Soft classical music – the same music it heard while in the shell – played during the day for it. The duckling gravitated to the bear, wiggling under it, soothed by its fluffiness. But, sometimes, it peeped in loneliness like it knew there were supposed to be others.

I was loath to have to tell the individual who had been waiting on the hatch that it had not gone as hoped. I knew she likely wouldn’t want to raise a single duckling, and I couldn’t blame her – while some people don’t think twice about raising a house duck in a diaper, it gives other people pause. I let her know the situation and expected that perhaps she’d asked to be notified of the next hatch.

Instead, she wanted the duckling. I was surprised, particularly when she mentioned that she had raised a young, lone duckling before. She asked if she could purchase the little one. Once my initial surprise wore off, I realized that L., the same person who had adopted Kevin, could give the little duckling the attention it would need to become a big, healthy, and happy duck. And I realized that she would be the right adopter – not buyer – of this little one.

As I described in the post about Kevin, L. is a young woman. When she came to pick up Kevin, she was with her mother, and I was happy to see that her mother was supportive and engaged with raising L.’s animals. I liked that L.’s mother seemed to care about the animals and would presumably provide help, if needed. Involved parents is a plus in my eyes.

I bundled the tiny duckling in a warm wool sock and put it in my fleece jacket so it would stay warm on the short trip to the meeting place. I had already asked L. how she would keep the duckling warm during the transport, and she indicated that she had a blanket for it. When I met L. and her mother, her mother also informed me that they had a heat lamp and proper setup for the duckling, a relief to hear. I handed the peeping baby over to L., who immediately cuddled it into the blanket she was carrying. I could tell that she would do her very best to care for the duckling.

I had spent a month monitoring temperature and humidity, turning three times a day, and misting/cooling the eggs. I had invested time and effort, and Nature had worked its magic once again. Further, it’s incredibly easily to become attached to baby ducks…but I remembered how “animal crazy” I had been as a teen, how much I learned and benefited from the relationship I’d had with animals – and how I still do. Having responsibility for a tiny, fragile life like a two day old duckling is a big deal, and I hope that L. learns a lot from – and enjoys – the experience.

So what was the gift? There were two: I was gifted the hatchling from eggs that seemingly weren’t meant to hatch, and, in turn, was able to gift a young lady with an adorable duckling that she will (hopefully) raise to adulthood and have for many years. A good start to the year, I’d say.

May 2020 bring you an abundance of joy – enough to share!