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TITLE: Chapter 1: A Hatching in Feather Grove
By Caitlin Dea

Adventures in Feather Grove is a collection of short stories about two baby ducks named Fluffkin and Lilly.

These stories are written for my little sister's 13th Birthday. The goal of the story is to symbolize my sister and i into a bunch of stories about our favorite animals --- DUCKS!

Yes, i realize each chapter is very short but when it comes to writing i have a limited attention span. I would rather make it short than not write at all:) I think as i practice i will be able to write longer...
Once upon a time, there was a land where man had not yet set foot. The only construction taking place was the local beaver building a dam or a woodpecker boring diligently into a tree. Houses were found all over, but they were not the homes of man. They were the homes of the chipper chickadee, the moody badger, and the quick field mouse. Yes, this was a land ruled only by the animal kingdom. This great community was called Feather Grove.

In Feather Grove, all of the animals could talk, well at least to each other they could. Certain species of animals had developed friendships which made growing up in the forest fairly safe. For instance, the bunnies and mice in Feather Grove, seeing no benefit in harming each other, began to allow their little ones to play together. Naturally, if the mama bunny saw any danger to the group of baby mice and bunnies playing, she would look out for everyone, even the smallest mouse pup. These type of relationships made Feather Grove a wonderful place to raise a family. In fact, this is why many different animal parents moved to Feather Grove. Animals that were in danger of being exterminated by man, moved here to have a better chance at life. There were even some families of migratory birds, that would stop at Feather Grove to take a vacation.

The landscape of Feather Grove was quite unique, making its exploration much like an adventure for the little ones. A crystal blue lake marked the very center of Feather Grove. A medium sized island was found in the middle of the lake. To those who were willing to swim there, this little sand bar made a lovely picnicking area on a warm sunny day. Marsh grasses and cat-tails surrounded the lake which was home to the ducks and the geese in the area. Willow trees surrounded the lake with their finger-like limbs holding the lake in their grasp. They really could not be called much of a forest. The distance between each tree let in so much sunlight that a trace of a shadow could not be found. Many species of berry bushes grew in Feather Grove which supplied much of the food to the local songbirds. These berries were colorful and sweet (no wonder the songbirds were always singing merrily).

Even in Feather Grove, danger still lurked. As the animals on the lower end of the food chain moved to this lovely land, their predators followed as well. Birds of prey, bears, and badgers posed the greatest threats to the smaller animals. Thankfully the companionship between these smaller animals helped keep Feather Grove relatively safe for the little ones. Sufficed to say, even with danger, the animals loved Feather Grove and were very proud of their community.

One very warm gorgeous morning in Feather Grove, new life sprung into the nest of two proud duck parents. Strangely, the mama duck had laid only two eggs in this brood. Thankfully, the only siblings had both turned out to be girls.

Mama and Papa duck sat back and watched in excitement as the first egg began to rattle and shake. A tapping sound came from somewhere inside the little round bundle. In fact the first little egg rolled and flipped around so much that it bumped into the second little egg which was resting silently on the other side of the nest. After being bumped so rudely , the yet unhatched duckling inside the second little egg began to move and somersault as well. Mama and Papa duck now had to guard the edges of the nest so that the little ducks trying to hatch would not roll away.

After about fifteen minutes of lots of commotion (from both eggs and parents), a small crack appeared in the first little egg who had started all the ruckus. Soon afterward a crack appeared in the second little egg. Within a couple of minutes the overexcited duckling in the first little egg was completely hatched and free from all shell.

The first little duckling was intently examined by both parents. She was rather big for a newly hatched, but that was okay because she would probably prove to be very strong and healthy. The feathers on the top of her head were matted down on one side and sticking up on the other. In human terms this would be called a common case of “bed head.” Perhaps part of the reason this duckling appeared so big was that her baby down feathers were very fluffy. From a distance, the hatchling looked like a big yellow pom-pom with feet. And so, the first little duckling was understandably called Fluffkin by her mama and papa.

Well, the very first thing Fluffkin really noticed after she had hatched was that her sibling had not yet finished hatching. The little egg rolling around next to her did not seem to be getting anywhere near breaking out. Therefore, Fluffkin felt it was her duty to help, her yet still “in-egg” sibling, speed up the process. Tapping her beak at one of the cracks, Fluffkin began chipping away little pieces of eggshell. With two little ducklings breaking the shell, the second baby duck was out in no time.

It was now the second baby duckling's turn to be examined by her mama and papa. The second baby duck was much smaller than her sister. It now made sense why it took the little duck so long to break free. Her shell was way to large for her! What really stood out about the hatchling was that she had huge dark eyes. Though she was small no one could overlook those large peepers. Mama and Papa named the second duck Lilly (actually short for Lilliputian instead of Lillian).

Once Fluffkin had finished freeing Lilly from the rest of her eggshell, she finally had run out of energy and slept right on top of the big pile of eggshell pieces. Lilly, also very exhausted from breaking out of her huge shell, curled up right next to her fluffy yellow sibling and went to sleep. Mama and Papa duck were very proud of the two sleeping bundles and went about keeping them warm in their nest. And this was the story of how Fluffkin and Lilly came to be born in Feather Grove.
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