It is funny how hobbies can sort of just show up on your doorstep one day. And then takeover your bathroom for a month. And pretty soon occupy any spare moments you didn’t even know you had. Haha!
My little birds have reinforced this, if not taught it to me directly.
Who would have thought that I would spend Friday and Saturday and half of Easter Sunday fretting about a little duckling that was malpositioned in an egg, stuck and struggling? And then that I would spend about two hours on Easter Sunday evening learning some ducky doula skills?! If you had ever suggested that to me in the past, I would have giggled in your face. And maybe you now are giggling at your screen. But suffice it to say, this is true.
I had not known the process of how fertilized eggs grew bird embryos, how the membranes functioned, what the yolk did, how the bird draws in the last of the yolk just prior to hatching, how pipping and zipping are to function… I knew nothing about the air pocket at the fatter/rounder end of an egg. I did not know that hatching took so agonizingly long. I had no idea that you couldn’t generally help a bird out of its egg without putting its life at risk. I didn’t even think about the fact that temperature and humidity levels would need to be so very specific in order to best imitate nature and how God does this process with broody mama birds. I now know that having three thermometers to monitor one incubator is a really good idea if you don’t want your fertile eggs to overheat and essentially cook. I now know how to candle eggs. I know what a pip looks like, and where it is supposed to be. I know how awesome it is when a little duckling pips at the right spot, zips the eggshell successfully, and pops out with vigor. I also know how traumatic it can be when a duckling pips at the wrong spot and dies with its little bill poking out the airhole, but gives up trying to hatch because it’s in the wrong spot and can not continue the work of hatching as God best designed it. And because of that, I learned how to spot a troubled hatchling who has pipped in the wrong spot… in fact, my last duckling came out the wrong end of the egg… at first I thought it was completely upside down but eventually learned it was more like what humans would call transverse. So I had to do some quick research on “hatch assist” to see how to give the duckling a chance at life, because it was basically prepared to die. I used a toothpick to give it an airhole after its pip was beginning to dry out and close up, and then waited. A long time. And when it still made no progress I chipped a tiny bit of shell away near its bill and head, and then waited. Another long time. I kept this egg very moist, and checked on it every few hours. The little thing kept wiggling and chirping and breathing, but made absolutely no progress in hatching. When I could tell it was getting tired, I brought out tweezers and suuuuuuper slowly helped it break the shell. Tiny piece by teeny tiny piece. Lots of moisture. Lots of time. And even lots of prayer. Proverbs 12:10 “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast.” I was seeking to be a good steward of this little life God had put into my hands. And when this fragile little duckling finally came slowly out of its shell (rather than bursting forth as the previous two had), it was bleeding from the umbilical area. I had never even thought about the fact that birds would have umbilical cords! Shows how much I knew… At any rate, rather than let this little duckling rest on its own in the incubator, I scooped her up and put a warm paper towel on the bleeding area to apply pressure and warmth. I snuggled the little thing for a good while and enjoyed being a participant in this part of God’s creation. It was a unique experience for me, and not one I expect to experience a lot again in the future (although I recognize you never know, so I will never say never). I was delightedly surprised to see this duckling survived that first night.
I never imagined that I would have learned quite the things that I learned through my journey of incubating duck eggs over the last month.
Allow me to introduce my little duckling trio to you.
Left to right: Easter, Cheer, and Calliope.
It is amazing how a frail little thing hatched 2 1/2 days ago that I wasn’t sure would make it through the hatch, or the first ten minutes, or its first night… is now stubborn and strong, pecky and plucky. No kidding.
This is Easter.