Quarantine has been very interesting, to say the least.
I’ve found my days checking work email, collecting eggs, staying on top of the farm chores during breaks, returning work phone calls, delivering supplies to friends and family in need, working odd hours. It has definitely been an adjustment as I know it has been for so many of you.
With Easter on the horizon and today being the Christian holiday of Good Friday, I thought it only fitting to bring to you the successful story of the four ducks that recently hatched on the farm.
If you have followed the Purple Shamrock Farm Facebook or Instagram page, you know I have tried unsuccessfully three times this year to hatch duck eggs. Several of the eggs almost made it to hatch and for whatever reason just did not survive to come out of the egg.
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I was about to give up when I decided to try once more. As it stood, I put these duck eggs into the incubator March 10, a few days in advance of the stay-at-home order. On March 13, when we knew we would not be working in our office any longer, I held out hope that maybe, just maybe, these eggs would bring some hope in the days following.
As an unexpected blessing, from having to work from home, I was able to stay on top of the humidity this time, and after candling the eggs after a week, I discovered all four of the eggs had development in them. I knew the chances of all four making it weren’t great, but I was very hopeful that at least one of the eggs may make it to hatching.
Fast forward to two and a half weeks into their incubation period and I candled the eggs again to find all four were still very much alive and developing. They were going to make it to the famous lockdown period. I knew it was selfish of me to want all four to hatch, but I also knew how much I needed (and those following the journey through social media) needed the joy that would come with four little ducklings making their way into the world.
Ducks usually take 28 days to hatch (give or take a day just like any baby delivery), and on the 26th day, I noticed all four eggs had little pips in them. I was beyond overjoyed.
I also learned during their hatching process that ducks take a lot longer to come out of their shells because it was 48 hours later that the first duck emerged from its shell.
The “parents” of these eggs were supposed to be Rouen ducks, which are a breed of domesticated mallard duck. Imagine my surprise when the duckling that emerged was not the traditional black and cream color but yellow.
Intrigued, I reached out to my fellow poultry enthusiasts, who said the parents could have looked purebred but that there were genes recessed that brought some unusual ducklings to the mix.
After the 29th day, the final duckling of the four eggs emerged, and I was thrilled to have two Rouen colored ducklings (the black and cream color) and two yellow ducklings (most likely will be white).
The shells now lay empty as the ducklings happily enjoy their hatch mates and will be experiencing their first swim in a week or so.
I think we can all be reminded that even in the midst of uncertainty and fear that there is new life happening all around us. Be sure to find some of that joy as we go through this time together. A very Happy Easter to all of you.
Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Read her blog at whattheclucker.blogspot.com. Send comments to [email protected].