Compassion in World Farming

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

My babies have all left home!

Why is it that nights seem to draw in a whole lot faster than they draw out? Already there don't seem to be enough daylight hours in the day. It's a rush to shop, get home from work & the school run, feed all the family, feed the animals, walk the dogs, sort washing out, etc., etc. I'm sure you all know the feeling! It's not that I've taken on too much I tell hubby when he dares to quietly suggest that may be the case, it's just that the luxury of time to take things leisurely is rapidly disappearing. There's not the same time to sit out on the grass with the hens & ducks; not the time to spend idly chatting & laughing with Mary over the fence; not the time to spend tending to the garden. It's the outdoor pleasures that are disappearing & it does make me a little sad.

But then the forgotten pleasures of the season return. Like more family time together. More time for home baking, pickling & preserving. Cosy evenings in with lots of lit candles. Time spent cuddled up with the dogs on the sofa. Comfy, favourite jumpers & toasty slippers pulled out of the wardrobe. And, dare I say it, the beginnings of Christmas preparations. So lots of pleasures to dissipate those post Summer blues.

To catch up on our news then, eldest son has returned to Uni for Year 2. I think he was looking forward to it - refreshed after a long, restful Summer break. Of course, I miss him terribly when he's not here. This year he is sharing a student house with some friends so it's another new experience for him, after the relatively sheltered environment of Halls in his first year. I packed him off with extra kitchen utensils, some basic provisions, a few cookery lessons & a recipe book in the hope that his diet will be a little more varied than the pizza & generic chicken grills he survived on last year! It won't be long until he's home again for the holidays & I'm just going to look forward to that & send lots of positive thoughts his way rather than sad ones.

We went to middle son's school yesterday evening to watch him receive an IT Award for being best at this subject at GCSE level. A very proud moment! It was a great evening in which the achievements of many of the kids at the school were celebrated & not just academic achievement but sporting & effort awards too. Middle son now has his name engraved on a trophy to celebrate the dedication he has shown to his studies.

The rest of the rescued Mallard ducklings have also now left 'home'. Just when I thought the remaining three just weren't showing any desire to fly away, two disappeared overnight on Sunday. On Monday morning, one had returned & seemed happy to be reunited with the one who had remained. However, yesterday evening neither of them were to be found & it would seem that it had just returned to tell it's siblings of all the wonders of the big wide world. It is just so heart warming that they have grown up to be confident enough to seek out lives as the wild ducks Nature intended them to be. But the protective, almost maternal feelings I have towards them make it difficult for me to no longer be a part of that life. Now I'm unable to care for them on a daily basis & make sure they are safe & sound they will face dangers & challenges that I won't be there to protect them against. I will wonder each day where they are & how they are doing. I whisper up a prayer that angels will always fly with them & keep them safe for me. I know hubby worries about the attachment I feel towards all of the animals in my care & it most certainly leads to anguish & tears at times. But the incredible joys, wonders & pleasures of the rich experiences it brings far, far outweigh the sad times. To have held the lives of those tiny ducklings in my hand, to watch them flourish & grow, to be able to enjoy a special bond with them & to finally watch them fly above my head on strong wings has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. One I will always treasure & give thanks for.

Of course, there's the excitement of the new arrivals to look forward to as the incubator whirs away keeping those precious hen eggs at the correct temperature & humidity. When I candled the eggs at day 7 to my surprise & delight every single one had a clearly defined embryo growing inside! It was just amazing to be able to take this peek inside the egg & witness the miracle of life that was going on inside. I'm going to candle the eggs once more tomorrow to check that all the embryos have continued to develop as they should. Then after that it will be time to leave well alone, other than to continue turning the eggs until the magic day 18. This is the approximate day at which the chicks will start to 'pip' & begin their struggle into the world. By my calculations 1st October should be my hatching date so this weekend hubby & I are going to prepare the brooding area. This needs to be a draught proof place over which we can hang a heat lamp to keep the chicks warm. I am going to cut some strips of material up & tie them together to suspend in the brooder to make a kind of surrogate Mother Hen they can nestle underneath. I have a special feeder & a drinker all ready to go. It's all very exciting & a bit nerve wracking with it being my first hatching! I hope all goes well.
So at the time of the Autumn equinox it's a time of farewells & a time to look forward to new beginnings.


  1. I dont know who can look after animals and not grow attached to them. They become members of the family.

  2. I'm glad you feel the same way! :-)

  3. Oh I so much agree with momcat's comment!
    We are not too far from Skipton, you must let us know when & where and we'll try and meet up eh?

  4. I'm sorry your babies left! I know the feeling, not seeing your silly duck friends in the yard any more, I cried a lot when QuackStar left.

    But so exciting! Maybe you will hatch every chick! My fingers are crossed.

    Have fun!

  5. sara...I went part time (very part time in fact)

    we have no money but it was the best thing I ever did............

  6. for turkeys and hens...give it a go!....
    what I would have on hand at home though is some flagyl antibiotic ready to give to the turkeys IMMEDIATELY if they look ill AND have bright yellow faeces.....