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Forty Years with Birds and Dogs 

Two Ducklings Arrive, With Help

First swim

Ms. Khaki and Mr. Campbell announce the arrival of their first ducklings, Mudsy and Puddles, on Saturday August 4 and early Sunday morning August 5.

Success came after 28 days of careful setting by Ms. Khaki, with two short breaks each day for grabbing a quick bite of mud and a quick dip in the horse trough, during which I managed to sneak a hand into the nest box to mist and turn the eggs. We both experienced one day of panic August 4, when Mudsy's small hole in her (think her, not him) shell failed to grow larger. The duckling was not going to make it out of the shell. Late in the day I decided to peel the egg. Sure enough, the membrane was tough, and drying out fast. I eased the shell off the weak, damp rag inside--and it wiggled! Carefully--oh so carefully, so as not to cause more blood to appear--I freed the damp rag from most of its shell before Ms. Khaki returned to the nest.

The next morning, fearing the worst, I opened the access door to the nest  and, to my great relief, saw a tiny brown fuzz ball peek at me from beneath Ms. Khaki. She moved off the nest while I checked the remaining eggs. Another damp rag of flesh and bones had made it half way out of its shell, all by itself. The second half came away easily. I took it and retreated quickly to leave Ms. Khaki with her second newborn.

Monday morning I was greeted by two brown fluff balls. Ms. Khaki went out to grab a drink, I removed the unhatched eggs to candle and discard them, the fluff balls peeped, Ms. Khaki ran back inside, I closed the access door and went off with friends to buy chick starter feed and have a green chili chicken enchilada for lunch. When I returned, determined to encourage Ms. Khaki to take her chicks outside (They had to eat, soon! I thought.) they were already outside, their tiny crops swollen with food--or something. I filled their shallow pool (a large plant saucer) so mama duck could get a better drink with her wide bill, and the babies stumbled in and out of the pool with none of the problems I had anticipated. Strong and healthy they were, independent little souls, already learning to avoid mom's big feet and showing her how to be a mom. She probably had not had one, in an incubator in Oklahoma.

Next--the first day out: Ducks are not like chickens.

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