The call came in around 7:30 AM. The post office wasn’t even open yet so I didn’t think it would be The Call. Pamela picked it up– “Private Number.” I almost didn’t answer. But it was the post office, slightly anxious to get those live animals off their hands, no doubt. Oh Lordy, the ducklings are here, the ducklings are here! Good news: since PJ hadn’t left for school yet, she could drive over with me. Bad news: the hour before school starts is easily the most complicated hour of the day. What the heck—the ducklings are here, the ducklings are here!
We inched through small town traffic, my fingers tapping on the steering wheel as high schoolers slouched toward class—out of our way, we’ve got baby ducks waiting! Finally, we pulled up to the main post office and actually got a parking spot right next to the loading dock. (So that’s how early a bird has to get up to nab a spot!) Our regular mail carrier came out to personally deliver an unexpectedly small cardboard box, covered with holes and full of peeps. There were wide grins all around as Pamela gently took ownership.
On the way back, we blasted the heater in the car, realizing belatedly that we had pre-heated the brooding area but not the vehicle delivering them to it! Soon we were stifling but it was worth it to keep the chill off the two-day-old hatchlings. PJ tried to peer through the cardboard perforations, attempting to identify the occupants. Each breed or perhaps even each bird had a slightly different peeping sound. The box appeared to be filled with life and we (literally) prayed (to St. Francis) that there would be no casualties from the two-day trip. It would be a bit of a bummer to find a dead bird after all this…..
Inside the garage, the brooder set-up glowed and a thermometer verified its 95 degree readiness. It had taken some close monitoring to keep the area under the lamp within the recommended 90-95 degree range. Our wacky weather had gone from 40 something up to 84 degrees and down again over the last two weeks. At least it wasn’t snowing…or at least not today!
As Pamela handled the camera, I snipped the plastic straps and delicately lifted off the lid. We held our breaths and counted…1, 2, 3, 4, 5…only five? There were no dead ducks (thank Francis!) but we appeared to be short one and the fifth one, even at first glance, looked a bit off. This last duck, I decided to call her Gladys, moved differently that the other hatchlings. Her wings stuck out at odd angles and it looked like something had nipped her head. I’m not a vet and I don’t play one on YouTube but I knew instantly that this little duckling had some serious issues. I could hear my husband’s voice already—how much is this gonna cost? Duck, $8.95, everything else, priceless!
Copyright 2012, Lori Fontanes