The Quack Pack

Welcome Home, Ducklings!

Houston- we have a FLOCK!

The day is upon us! At long last we were able to pick up our new quack pack!

Like picking up takeout

For reasons that were not 100% clear to me, the hatchery we used had a policy that if you were ordering less than 50 ducks (!!) you needed to pick them up in person on the ‘day of hatch’, which happens on Mondays. I have no way of explaining this other than.. Science?

Khaki Campbells hatch on mondays at noon, so we made a date to drive out to Pennsylvania that afternoon. To accomplish this I needed to cancel a meeting with my boss “to go get my ducks” which might be seen as the homestead version of “the dog ate my homework” but is actually totally legit!

As we drove out to Pennsylvania, three things happened: the speed limit increased, the population decreased and reality set in- we were going to be duck parents!

The hatchery is roughly a half mile from the middle of nowhere. We tumbled down a pseudo-paved road to an enormous farm with laundry hanging on the line, one incredibly pregnant dog and a gentleman with a Jesus license plate. We knew before that the ‘hatchery-guy’ (official title) would not be around and that our ducks would be ‘in a box on the table’. What box? What table? Where? — great questions I should have asked!

We sat in the car for a few minutes, the engine ticking angrily as it cooled down- I was very aware that my 2009 camry is not exactly ‘farm ready’. Finally, we climbed out and over the pregnant pupper and waved down our faithful friend.

Making new friends

“Hi! We’re here to pick up our ducks?” We shouted over the quacks.

“This is a duck farm,”

“Yes… that’s why we’re here?”

*Silence*

“Do you know where our ducks might be?”

“Maybe in the hatchery,”

*Looks around bewildered*

“Could you tell us where that is?”

A few grumbles later, our new friend began to amble down to the one barn that was not quacking. He looked at our car, back at us, then to our car and asked how many ducks we were getting and we informed him that we’d be picking up three female khakis. Faithful Frank laughed at us in disbelief. “We hatch 1,800 ducks a month! What are you going to do with THREE?”

At this point I was asking myself the same question. “Love them?”

We entered a sweltering barn that had what appeared to be an egg factory- thousands of eggs were stacked in a massive incubator. All we could hear was the faint whirring of the heaters… No quacks.

Our motley crew looked at each other and shrugged, peeking around to see where our ladies might be. It wasn’t until we pushed aside a standing crate in the far corner that I saw it.. A lone box with my name on it!

Is..is this legal?

We scooped up the box and left $15.30 on the table, in what felt like the strangest drug deal of all time. I half expected DEA agents to knock down the door and arrest us at any second.. Duck enforcement agents obviously.

We bundled our brood up, waved goodbye to Faithful Frank, and after a few minutes of cajoling the pregnant pup out of our way, rumbled back to New Jersey.

On the way home we peeked inside the box; it was so light that we couldn’t believe the ducks were even in there. As soon as Garret cracked the top of the back we were rewarded with three bright little peeps!

We kept the car at a balmy 90 degrees, as ducklings need to maintain a temperature of at least 80 for the first week of their life. They had us wrapped around their little talons from the first hour- every time we tried to crack a window so we didn’t pass out, we would hear three angry little peeps come from inside the box! Garret said it reminded him of driving home after picking up a pizza as a kid- turning the whole car into an oven to keep it warm.

Two sweaty hours later- Starduck, Admiral and Boomer had arrived! What’s with the names? Well you obviously haven’t watched Battlestar Galactica. You should go fix that. Seriously.

Our next hurdle will be ensuring their adjustment and navigating imprinting. Stay tuned!

Have you brought any furry/feathered/scaly friends home? I’d love to hear all about it!