Posts Tagged ‘ducklings’

Duck Tales

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Oh dear. Is it just me who goes out on a sunny bank holiday for a civilised drink with friends and comes home at 1am wearing a bra and their spare Hawiian garland having a booked a holiday to Florida? Yes? Thought so.

And none of the above would necessarily be an issue were it not for the fact that:

  1. It is now no longer a bank holiday.
  2. It was my long suffering partner who had to come and scrape me off the bank holiday floor.
  3. Said long suffering partner is a GP who has to go and be responsible for people’s lives in the morning.

You may imagine my current popularity.

It’s all so unfortunate because I always MEAN WELL. I’d taken all the necessary precautions. I’d tidied and cleaned the house, I’d organised dinner, I’d informed my children, I’d sorted the horse out. What had escaped me was the fact that I’d left the rabbits in their run outside, our ducklings in theirs and today is a busy day when the Spanish tutor is coming round and then we’re going to meet the ‘buddy’ of my daughter at her new school and her mother. As it stands at the moment I’ll be turning up in last night’s clothes doing something straight out of the Ministry of Silly Walks with a duckling under each arm. It’s bad enough catching two rabbits who are thrilled to be having a sleepover in their run, it’s quite another gathering up five evasive ducklings whilst in vino veritas. They’re sweet things though and they belong to my daughter who has entrusted them to my splendid care whilst she’s abroad.

In fact, she’s entrusted them to my care from the word go. It wasn’t meant to be like that, she was due to sit her A-Levels, take a Gap year, earn some money and then go travelling for six months when the ducks were fully grown and needed minimal input. However – enter Covid 19. Funnily enough, my daughter will also be 19 in November. Perhaps a joint birthday party? That’s written in a bitter tone, if you can’t tell.

Anyway, she’s wanted ducks for a while and I’ve been subject to many pleadings over the last few months (years). It’s gone something like:

“Can I please have ducks?”




“But I love ducks and I’ll do it all myself.”


“I’ve wanted them for ages.”


***Covid 19 tips up and destroys all plans***


“OK, fine.”

What could possibly go wrong?

I’ll start with the hatching. For those who don’t know, duckling eggs have to be lovingly incubated for 28 days or thereabouts. The incubator has to be sitting somewhere safe, the eggs will be turned every so often, you have to keep their atmosphere humid and above all you have to LEAVE THEM ALONE. I wanted to pester but I was kept at arm’s length by my daughter who had done some solid research. She bought the eggs, she sorted them out in their incubator, she worked out when they would hatch, she tidied the shed, she commissioned a duck house for said shed and all in all, she did a heck a of a lot of preparation. Slightly before they were due to hatch she had an eighteenth birthday party to go to in Cornwall (about 150 miles away). She said she was going to the party but she would come home a day early because the ducklings were due to hatch – all fine. She left on the Friday to return on the Tuesday and I was left in sole charge not having a clue about these eggs, but all I had to was water them every so often. Or so I thought. I waved her off happily on the Friday morning, content with my instructions, and later that evening I went to start my duck egg duties. The first thing that went wrong was that one of the eggs had split in half. I know this sounds ridiculous but when I saw this split-in-half egg it took me a moment to realise what this meant and to my horror I swiftly spied a tiny duck staggering about.


I stared. I panicked. This wasn’t meant to happen! I phoned my daughter, “Congratulations darling, you have a duckling. What the **** do I do now???”

“LEAVE THEM ALONE. They should all hatch together and they don’t need anything for the first 48 hours.”

“But do I need to – “


“Are you sure?”



Slightly uneasily I went to bed, expecting five tiny ducklings when I woke up, however I was disappointed when I opened my eyes– there was just the one duckling still.

“Darling, there’s still just one duckling.”


I’ve never been good at leaving things alone.

From this point onwards, I was a duck midwife, running a duck labour ward. The stress was unbelievable, I couldn’t keep away. It’s all very well being told to leave them alone but I was fascinated and petrified in equal measure. These things were precious and dearly loved already. So I pretty much sat and watched them hatch in fear – this wasn’t meant to happen!

 After the second duckling was born all the shells began to crack and it all started happening fairly swiftly. The incubator was sealed, I had one older duckling, one only-just-born-duckling, two eggs cracking with tiny beaks making an appearance and one egg stubbornly doing nothing. For some – STUPID – reason I thought this was a splendid time to move the incubator to somewhere more central where I could live my life as well as keeping an eye on the cracklings. So I unplugged it, picked it up – and DROPPED it. The horror was entire – I had half an incubator, two newborn ducklings, two cracklings and one egg, in my LAP. I didn’t know what to do, so I just sat there for a moment with the words ‘leave them alone’ on a loop in my brain. Somehow I gathered up all the bits and returned them to the incubator and made a solid pact with them that we would never mention this again.

24 hours later I had five, perfect ducklings. But it was 24 hours of zero sleep, lots of panic and even more worry. I was calmer when my children were born.

It’s all ended well though because we now have five toddler ducks who are very happy and very spoiled. And very loud. I knew they were ‘call’ ducks but what I didn’t know was how loudly they ‘call’. It isn’t the eggs that are splitting these days.

It’s my ears.