Nikki, Gretel, and Rubber Ducky
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The incubator day 7.
Last Saturday we took two of the dogs to the city to get their Rabies shots. Spent some time in the city running a couple other errands while we were there.
When we came home at about 7:30pm, we noticed dog who stayed home had escaped the fence. We shooed all the dogs in, thinking nothing really of it. He’s been out many times, and has never bothered the fowl and has always stayed close by.
After unloading the cold groceries, we went to put the birds away fore the night, who didn’t fly into the coop themselves. The ducks were all huddled in a corner of the outside coop (open for shelter, with their daily food & water). Angela was wet on her back/neck & muddy. But…. there were three ducks missing. The boy ran & got a flashlight.
I ran over to where Gretel had been nesting. Hansel has been watching over her the last couple days while she sat, and I thought she went fully broody & was there. Nope. Searching the yard, I found Gretel first. Over by the driveway. Neck broke. No other marks. Frantically searching, trying not to cry & scream, I walked around. In another part of the yard, up by the run, I found Nikki. Same. Neck broken. After some more searching, I found Ducky. She had a couple puncture wounds, but her neck was too broken too.
I was crying. Yelling that I hated the dog, hat the dog had to go. Once a dog gets a taste of the kill, they will always go for it. I know he was only ‘playing’. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. But now that I know he will do this, I can’t trust him. EVER.
My son was crying too. My daughter was inside, putting her new fish’s bags in the tank. But once she came out & learned what we were doing, she started tearing. After finding Gretel, my hubby kept trying to take the flashlight from me, telling me to go inside & he’ll search. But I had to see. *I* had to find them. They were my babies. I know it sounds morbid, but I needed the closure of seeing them dead.
After putting everyone else to bed, and counting the chickens, we went inside while hubby collected the dead ducks to bury them the next day in our graveyard hill. Three of our ducks. Gone. Two girls & one boy.
About 30 minutes later, I was very fidgety, and I had to go check on the ducks. I went out to the coop, and picked Angela (our Pekin girl) up, looking at her back because she was still ‘wet’, which was odd. When I did, I noticed some blood, and the ‘wet’ was dog spit. No! . I brought her in, soaked & washed her in the tub & checked her out. She had a puncture wound on her upper back. I cleaned it with Betadine and slathered it with Neosporin (it’s all I had. We actually tried to pick up Vetericyn that day, but they were out).
I put her in the infirmary (a cordoned off area of the coop) for the night.
I felt the worst for Hansel, Gretel’s mate. The other ducks, both new & old, never really let them ‘in’ to the committee (what we call the ducks). The two were always separate, keeping to themselves. She is now gone. He is all alone. The other ducks always chased the Swedish, and I knew he would forever be an outsider. We had to do something!
That night after I got over the first waves of anger & sadness, the first idea I had was to order ducks. I could order females, and that way we’d have more females then males & that would be better. We used to have 7 boys & 3 girls (luck of the straight-run draw). Now we were down to ONE female, and six males. Yikes! So I went online. Scoured the many different hatcheries. No matter which way you looked at it, it was going to cost us about $70 to replace our ducks. You have to order a minimum. If you don’t you get charged a fee. And another fee. Then add on shipping….. Oi. We just can’t do that right now. Hubby got laid off on the 10th, so I had to think of something else.
The next day, I had another idea. Now, I had been collecting the eggs from everyone and putting them in the fridge as usual. I didn’t know the girls were going to die. Obviously. But, Gretel was sitting on a nest. There were only three girls, and I know they’ve mated. I went to the computer & looked up to see if you could hatch eggs that had been in the fridge. OMG – I found out that there is a slight chance of hatching eggs that had been in the fridge for up to two weeks! Now, the bad part…. My fridge sucks. We need a new one because it’s freezing food, but can’t right now. Which means I had even less of a chance of my idea working as the eggs prolly got too cold. *sigh*
I didn’t care. Trying to hatch some of Rubber Ducky & Gretel’s last eggs was my only chance of keeping the girls ‘alive’. I literally ran to the fridge & took the duck eggs out. Newest were on top, so that made it easier. I immediately did some more internet searching. I needed to build a home-made incubator! So, that afternoon, I built one, and put the eggs in. I was a nervous wreck though because I couldn’t keep the humidity constant. After a day of constantly watching the eggs, hubby asked if he’s like me to go to the city & see if he could find one. YES! He went to the nearest town that had a feed store (35 minutes away). No dice. So he went to the next (another 15 min away). Score at Big R. Now, it wasn’t a Brinsea, but it was all they had. He told me to read some reviews and let him know if it’s what I wanted. I argued that it was $50. He said that it was worth it to see if we could get some babies from our girls that died. He also argued the fact that we could use it to hatch some chickens later on if we wished. OK. So, he bought it and was home an hour later.
I tore into the box, set it up, and waited the 6-8 hours to make sure it held temp, tapping my foot the whole time. Then I placed the eggs in, and crossed my fingers. We all know that it’s a long shot. But if we just got ONE duckling out of the 20 I put in there, it would be wonderful!!
I’ve been watching it like a hawk, making sure the temp & humidity are good. I have three thermometers going in there. I’ve been turning the eggs 4-8 times a day just like I read. At day four, I candled the eggs. Nothing. I know that it was early for duck eggs. I know that it’s a long shot that ANY of them hatch at all. I remind myself of this, trying not to get heart broken.
On day six I candled some of the eggs just to show my daughter what they look like. I don’t expect to see ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ until day 8 or 9. I found one with a big red ring…..Oh, NO! One of Gretel’s that she was sitting on in the nest her last day. I left it just in case it wasn’t a blood ring. There were a couple others that looked a bit different from 2 days before. No, I don’t want to get my hopes up!
I had also been putting a few chicken eggs in there as a ‘control’. To make sure I’m doing it right, and that it’s the duck eggs that are no good, and not me. The chicken eggs look like they are developing. Some dark spots, some spider-webbing, etc. They are at different stages from this past week, fresh off the nest.
Day seven. I candled all of Gretel’s eggs because that one was putting me in suspense! The one with the ring….it sort of separated. It has a dark red part, and some lighter. Ans is bigger. I was staying completely still, and I saw it moving. Maybe it’s just hope talking. One of her others had some spider-webbing. My insides are jumping for joy, but I’m trying not to get too excited. None of her other ones look viable though. None of Rubber Ducky’s looks fertile or are developing either. That makes me sad.
I have also been putting some of Angela’s eggs in there as what we need are female ducks. When candling Gretel’s eggs today, I had accidently grabbed one of Angela’s (almost the same color). It’s got MAJOR spider-webbing going on! I’m so excited. I’ll be candling the rest of hers tonight. This is going to be a very long 28 days!!!
So that is where we are. That’s the story, and that is how I’m dealing with it.
R.I.P. Babies – Nikki (Magpie), Gretel (Swedish), and Rubber Ducky (Buff Orphington) 4/12 – 9/12