The wonderful mysteries of life’s beginnings

Let’s just say I really learned the meaning of the saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

Let’s just say I really learned the meaning of the saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Except in my case, the eggs in question contained ducks.

About a month ago, my roommate Raina went to an agricultural show in Wetaskiwin. Though she went empty-handed, she left with five fertilized duck eggs, an incubator, and a duckling. The duckling has since grown into a full-sized duck, who still continues to follow us around the house and quacks if we leave him alone.

The eggs were put in the incubator, and so began the process of their development. After a couple weeks, we were able to hold a flashlight to the bottom of the eggs and see blood vessels inside three of them, meaning there was a duckling growing inside. The other two eggs, unfortunately, never developed blood vessels, and we had to dispose of them.

As time progressed, we were able to see the ducklings inside two of the eggs continue to grow. However, the blood vessels inside the third one started looking strange, and we couldn’t see the silhouette of a duckling inside when we held a flashlight to it. We gave it a bit more time, but it was obviously a lost cause. We had to get rid of it.

The ducklings inside the remaining two eggs continued to grow, eventually getting so large that all we could see inside the egg was a dark shadow. When I held one up to my ear, I could hear the duckling inside peeping. They were due to hatch soon.

One day, while out of the house, I received a text from Raina.

“EGGS ARE HATCHING,” it said. I hurried home.

When I arrived, both eggs were cracked, but had no holes. If I watched them for a while, I could see them move as the duckling inside struggled to get out.

A day later, one of the eggs had a hole in it. Peering through it, I could see yellow feathers and part of a beak. I could hear the duckling inside the egg squeaking.

The next day, while out of the house, I received another text from Raina.

“A duckling hatched,” it said. I rushed home in excitement.

The duckling was completely wet – his yellow feathers were stuck together and he almost looked bald. I could see his little body moving up and down as he breathed. His head rested on the floor of the incubator and his eyes were closed.

I stood by and watched him. Every so often, he would awaken and weakly lift his head up to peep before letting it drop down again to sleep. His peeps were answered by the other duckling still in the egg, who would then peck at the cracks in his shell.

I left after a while and checked on them a few hours later. The other egg had hatched and the second duckling was nestling with the first. He was black and yellow, and his feathers were wet just like the first duckling. Both were asleep, clearly weak and exhausted from what they had been through.

A day later, their feathers dried and became fluffy. They have a lot more energy now and run around flapping their stubby little wings when we take them out of their aquarium. Though they are entertaining, I will never forget how fragile and helpless they were when they were first born. That’s how all life begins. It’s amazing.

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