Monday, 3 August 2009

The early birds

I have records for everything. Lambing dates, live and dead weights for lamb and pork going back years, breeding records and statistics, lists of ducklings on order, incubation setting and hatching dates, hedgetrimming and laying schedules, you name it.
I check the poultry and livestock spreadsheets and note that today is the day to turn on the hatcher and move the next batch of duck eggs across from the incubator as soon as it's up to heat. In two days time the hatching will begin.
I go into the old stable I use as the incubation and hatching room and I hear cheeping, and it's not from the swallows or housemartins in the roof. Seesawing gently as the automatic turning cradle tilts to and fro are two early birds. A pair of black indian runner ducklings have not waited to be moved into the non-swaying, non-tilting, flat as a pancake hatcher, but have emerged in the incubator leaving neatly excavated shells.
I hurtle into the boot room, turn on the heat lamp, chuck sawdust into the brooder, put in a drinker and some feed, and gallumph back to extract the ducklings and put them into their new home for the next two weeks.
With the world no longer turning under their feet they look a little dazed. I present the early birds - just a couple of hours old. More will be joining them shortly. Before they have time to catch a worm.

5 comments:

mrsnesbitt said...

I love runner ducks! So characteristic,always cheer me up!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

They are pretty.

Winchester whisperer said...

When do their necks start to grow?

John Gray jgsheffield@hotmail.com said...

runners "look2 like little adults soon after birth...but have the characteristic upright walk proper after a week or so.
they are nortorious mucky birds!
I had 14 in the kitchen last year and nearly got divorced
x

Mopsa said...

Mrs N- I have 3 of my drakes n the front garden and they peer in through the window as we eat - it makes me chuckle every time.

Welshcakes - they are most comical

WW - surprisingly fat - in a week or so you can tell the difference between them and my shortnecked Aylesburys

John - the kitchen is NOT the place for mucky ducklings! Stick them in the bath next time (nope).