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The early bird


This is Early. She (or he) was (as the name implies) early. It was one of the coveted white peacock eggs I ordered on line on e-bay. Actually, I think this is the egg my dog carried around (I write on the shells to track the history of the egg so I can learn from mistakes etc…)
 
For one month I have been hovering over my incubator, turning eggs four times a day. About a week ago, I went to turn a duck egg and it exploded in my hand. All this yucky goo came out, and I’m told the smell of rotten eggs was enough to make a person toss their cookies. Oops. I figured it was one bad egg. Then, this weekend, while I was trying to show off to my parents who were visiting, I went into the incubator and when I lifted the lid, another duck egg had exploded and there was this horrible black gunk all over the place. And again, the smell was hideous. Needlesstosay, my family shook their head at this proof of my inadequacy as a farmer in training. 
I got rather embarrassed, and I started thinking all my eggs were probably bad – at least the duck eggs.  The peacock eggs looked good, but I noticed several of the duck eggs were turning gray. The duck egg seller took her time shipping them, and didn’t lable the package correctly so I started wondering if maybe this package was x-rayed during delivery thus killing the embryos, or I over heated the eggs and they died during incubation, or they weren’t fertilized from the beginning. And I had visions of them going off like firecrackers, exploding everyday, until they definitely ruined my peacock eggs (which I was holding out hope for.)

So, I cleaned out the incubator and I made an executive decision to throw out the gray duck eggs. One wasn’t even that gray, but was so messy with rotten gunk I didn’t know how to clean it. Not like you can run it under water at this stage. So I tossed them into the woods. I noticed the weight of the one non-gray egg and that bothered me, but still, I was pretty convinced that this egg hatching thing was a failure. I thought I might try again with something easier. I kept the six, better looking duck eggs just in case.

I continued turning the eggs I had. The peacocks are due to hatch this Friday. I turned the eggs at 6am yesterday, but when I went to turn them at 1:00, I was shocked to see a little bird staring up at me through the window. I was out of my mind excited. I ran upstairs, calling to Mark as if I’d won the lottery. Together we went downstairs and watched through the window, trying to figure out what hatched. I couldn’t be sure, since I have no experience with either bird breed, but after a bit, I reached in to get the shell and confirmed that it was a white peacock. 

It was a special day. Neva was ecstatic. Then, we heard peeping inside the incubator from other eggs. About two hours later, a duckling hatched. The difference was obvious, and I felt really dumb. A duck looks nothing like a peacock, ya know – well NOW I know.  

Kent said, “Wow, Mom. You really did it. I didn’t think you were doing anything but cooking rotten eggs down here.”
Love how my family has confidence in me.
I was feeling like quite the incubator queen, but I felt that was probably it. No other sounds were coming from the incubator. But I was grateful for a bit of life from the experiment. We went to bed.

At five I went to check Early and the new duckling, and there was another duck hatched sitting up in the warmth of the incubator . Throughout the afternoon, all the other duck eggs hatched. We have six ducks. Don’t’ ya know, every egg hatched that hadn’t been tossed into the woods. That’s when the horrible guilt set in. Did I kill the others? Were there little baby ducks curled inside, only one day from entering the world, as I hurled them to their demise? This is, as you might guess, killing me. But I’ve decided to focus on the fact that those eggs were gray. Except the one that was gooey. That is the one I will lose sleep over.
Anyway, it is a happy ending for six adorable baby ducks. And I have learned from the process a bit about patience and having faith and that a month of commitement does pay off in the end.
Here are my new friends as they first entered the world. 




So, now I have one very lonely peacock baby who cheeps all day and runs around anxiously, following us when we enter the room. She sticks her beak out of the cage towards the incubator every time she hears a peep. She needs a flock, and I fear she needs buddies for body warmth too. A single chick is not a healthy situation. I put her with the ducks as an experiment, but they were aggressive, so I took her back out not wanting to risk it. The other peacock eggs are lying still. One has a small crack, but no further action. I am hoping that Early was simply early and her buddies will join her soon, arriving on their due date. In the meantime, Early has this crusty black hard thing sticking out of her backside. With regular chicks (hens), this often means they have a digestion problem and they die in a few days. I’ve tried to gently remove it, but no luck so far.  Do I have to mention how upset I will be if Early doesn’t make it? Perhaps she has problems because she is a preemie. Yet she is perky and full of energy, so who knows. I can only hope for the best. One thing is for sure, this baby peacock has imprinted on us and is remarkably friendly. I sure would love to add her to my collection of animal pals. She is very, very special considering she is our first home hatched bird, our first peacock, and a symbol that if you try something new, you may actually be successful.

I had a ball watching her those first hours. She could barely stand and her wobbly legs reminded me of  April (our horse) the first day she was born. One of Early’s clawed feet was also curved inward, and we wondered if she had a deformity (again, we are newbies at this) but in a few hours she straightened out and looked as healthy as can be. She has a loud peep – sort of a teaser of the outrageous bellowing call to come. People tell me that when peacocks cry it sounds like someone calling “help me.” Cool.
Anyway, here is Early all fluffed up and in her new temporary home. Hope she is entertaining friends soon. In the meantime, I go downstairs and stare at that incubator every half hour, praying to hear more peeping or see an egg start to rock and roll. Wish me (and Early) luck with the other five eggs.
Here’s my girl (or boy as the case may be). Made her myself from scratch. The only way I could have gotten closer was to have her inside of me, and well, that obviously wasn’t an option. This is as close to being a peacock mom as a gal can get. Sure is fun.
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About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

2 responses »

  1. Congratulations on your new babies! That peacock is sooo stinkin’ cute! I let out a big fat “awwww” the minute I saw her/him. I pray it’s friends come soon! ❤

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  2. There is a tapping coming from inside an egg this morning. Yippee! I think my other peacocks just have manners and know better than to show up to the party early. As you know, I’ve been listening to tappers for many a year, but I think this version, sans the established rhythm or shiny black shoes, makes me want to dance as much as any other. 

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