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Cornelius News

Modern Dad vs. COVID-19: Duck Dynasty

April 17. By Jon Show. The Blonde Bomber has shown an interest in photography the last few weeks. She loves going around and taking pictures of nature and the dog and snakes and whatever else she can find.

Two weeks ago I pulled out the family DSLR camera and asked her if she wanted to use it. She looked baffled and said something about the camera being too expensive, to which I replied that at this point –  up is down, left is right, the ground is the sky and value means nothing.

She responded by grabbing the camera and wearing it like a purse as she skipped through the neighborhood snapping shots of turtles and geese and – eventually – a duck building a nest. As the days progressed and the duck laid her eggs, she went down to the pond each morning and returned with a fresh pic of the eggs.

On Monday morning, shortly after the intense storms that blew through overnight, she again left with the camera to take new shots of the eggs as I sat in my home office, looking out the window during a conference call.

Some time later she returned and sheepishly looked around the corner into my office. I pointed to my ear phones – which the kids know means I’m on the phone – and muted the call and turned down the volume. Then this happened.

Bomber: “The mama duck is dead.”

Me: “What? What mama duck?”

Bomber: “The mama duck with the eggs. She died in the storm last night and she’s gone.”

Me: “Honey, the duck is probably fine. Don’t worry about it. Wait, what’s in your hands?”

And then she timidly held up an egg and I hung up on the conference call and yelled various things until she began to cry, which made me feel like a jerk. Then she said she’d go put the egg back and I explained to her that birds and ducks abandon eggs that have been touched, which is why I’ve told them a hundred times to never touch eggs.

This story goes on much longer but in the interest of time – we walked down the street and the duck was still in the pond. The nest was located next to the pond on the other side of a five foot tall railing, and at the foot of a six foot tall retention wall – an area that she might be able to get into but she’d never get out of.

Next to the nest, which washed away in the storm, there was one broken egg. The egg she took was at the top of the retention wall so someone or something must have been messing with them but it definitely wasn’t a 48-inch tall kid.

But I guess I have no idea what happened. She loves animals so much so maybe she’s the Mother Teresa of water fowl who wants – no, needs – to save animals. But she’s been locked in the house for a month with no one but us to play with so maybe her coping mechanism is to become a budding sociopath who steals eggs from nests.

I give either option 50/50 odds at this point.

Anyhoo. Now stuck with an egg that I had no idea was dead or alive, we spent the rest of the morning constructing what I would consider to be a pretty solid DIY duck egg incubator.

The incubator is a box lined with foil as insulation and a towel on the bottom. The top of the box opening is another sheet of foil so my nightstand lamp slides through and provides consistent heat.

Through trial-and-error we figured out that a 60 watt incandescent bulb delivers the exactly 99 degrees of heat that you need in an incubator.

Hours later, the Mother of Dragons came down from her bedroom office to ask why we had a foil lined box and lamp on the table, to which I responded, “We’re incubating a baby duck,” and walked out of the room.

Normally this would lead to a series of incredulous gestures and questions but I think her response was something along the lines of, “OK, whatever.”

For the first day we had the egg the entire thing felt kind of surreal and I joked about giving the duck the same name as the baby due this fall to our friends down the street. There’s no way the egg was alive.

Three times a day from Monday through today the Blonde Bomber has rotated the egg and spritzed it with water to keep it from drying out but – again – there’s no way it was alive.

Duck duck due

By today – Friday – my daughter had grown quite attached to the egg so felt like I should figure out whether we were further traumatizing her by having her carry a dead duck egg to full term. I imagined her growing old becoming the woman in the nursing home who treats a doll as a real-life baby.

A Google search returned the very simple flashlight test. You hold a flashlight under an egg in a dark room and if the egg has healthy looking veins it’s likely alive and if something moves – well – it’s definitely alive.

The Blonde Bomber – our youngest – represents the last time we received proof of life in our family. The Mother of Dragons was in Las Vegas for work and called home to tell me we were having a second child.

But today, April 17, 2020, it looks like we’ll be welcoming another member into our family. I wanted to name it Thunder so we’d have a duck named Thunder and a dog named Lightning but I was overruled. The Blonde Bomber is leaning toward Daffy.

The gender reveal is going to be one hell of a party. I’ll set up a Zoom call so others can join.

Anyone know how to tell if a duck is a boy or a girl?

Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 10-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 7-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.
They just added a duck named Thunder.