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.