Cute Overload AND a Pie it Forward Sweepstakes!

If you've wondered what's been happening in pastry land, you are in for a treat. Be prepared for an overload of cute and scroll to the end of this post for information on how to win a super duper prize that includes a King Arthur Flour gift basket AND a private pie making class via Skype with me!  We'll play with pastry AND there may be a guest appearance by a few feathered sweeties.

While no flour, sugar or butter went into the making of these fuzz balls, they are still full of love.

My foster ducks and geese have been in fine hormonal fetal this spring and they will soon be returning to their farm.  In preparation for their departure, I have realized that they've become an integral part of the landscape.  They keep the lawn trimmed and fertilized.  They warn the neighborhood of possible danger.  They eat slugs and weeds.  And they provide entertainment, albeit sometimes of the horrific variety.  But by and large, they are lovely creatures.  I'm also hoping that since I was their birth coach, wielding a tweezer to help extract them from their insanely tough shells (hen's eggs are soft butter compared to the rock hard water fowl iteration and assisting in their hatch is common place), they'll look to me as their adoptive Mother Goose.  I certainly hope so because I've already fallen head over heels in love with all 13 of my ducklings and 7 of my goslings.

The process is magical.  After 28+ days of incubation, I heard the first "internal pip," that moment when the first hatchling breaks through the internal membrane and lets loose an audible "cheep!" from inside the shell.  The next stage is the external pip, the first crack in the egg.  The hatching process can take up to 24-48 hours.  The nano-second you hear an adorable peep emanate from the confines of an egg, it takes every bit of restraint not to crack open the thing and extract the fluff ball within.  However, the process is lengthy for a reason.  The external yolk sac that feeds the hatchling must be absorbed before the bird can fully emerge.  Premature removal can be deadly.  So I waited and I helped when it was appropriate.
First gosling peaking through!
Pippy, the first hatchling.

Simon, hatchling number 2.

Tank, hatchling number 3 and the first Toulouse gosling to emerge.
Pippy and Simon recovering from a long 2 days of hatching.
Once rested, Pippy and Simon became the official Freegrace welcoming crew, greeting each new member of the flock with kisses and enthusiasm.  That the new comers were exhausted and in a state of shock from their extreme change of circumstances from nestling in a warm shell to breathing oxygen for the first time in their little lives, was obvious to the welcome committee and they nestled with the vulnerable newbies to keep them cozy and nibbled at any remaining membrane stuck to the fuzz.  Tank was their first patient.

Pippy and Simon keep Tank warm.
Sandwiching the newbie.
13 ducklings and 7 goslings all in a pile.
The moment a duckling or gosling emerges into the world, they can swim. But I waited a few days before taking them out for their first paddle and grass time.  I also kept them from the adults.  Unless the grown ups hatched the babies themselves, they won't recognize them as their own and might kill them.  It's a duck eat duck world out there and I'm just trying to keep it a little civil.

Babies in a box.  Transport to their first outdoor adventure.
When the elements became too much, the babies took refuge under me.  I'm all verklempt.
Taking pictures of taking pictures.
Now you know what's been happening here in pastry land, we've been welcoming new babies and future egg producers into our family.  And to celebrate, I'm so excited to announce a fantastic Pie it Forward sweepstakes.  Follow the link for all the information!!!

Duckling mamas and papas.

Gosling mamas and papas.

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