March 23, 2016

Parents and Foster Parents on the Farm

As I have reported on in past posts, the ducks have a nest full of eggs now, which they are sort of taking care of.  Bossy pants does poof up the nest and lay on it at night, but when the door to the duck house opens in the morning she can't seem to resist the urge to run free.  

This morning, for example, I opened the duck house and the male came out immediately.  She quacked at him for a couple minutes then out she came too.  I went up to get them more food and when I came back down, there were entwined in a little morning loving...

which also looks like the male is trying to drown the female, but hey - to each his own.  

So we are not really sure if bossy pants is sitting on the eggs enough each day to incubate them.  Time will tell.

In the meantime, up the hill, in the hen house, we have a Rhode Island Red who has gone seriously broody.  For those of you who are wondering what that means - she has gone through some hormonal change that has turned on her "mom" mode.  She is now very protective of her nest box, which she sits in all day and night, only coming out briefly to eat and drink and relieve herself in the early morning. 

When you open the door to the nesting boxes, she squawks loudly, spreads her tail feathers and poofs out as big as she can to try to scare you away.

Now, as far as we know, we don't have any roosters now so none of the eggs she had in her nest would be fertilized and able to hatch into baby chickens.  Josh and I had an idea, though, about putting her mothering instincts to good use.

We have a nest overflowing with fertilized duck eggs, which may or may not be getting incubated.  Why not give a couple of those eggs to the bird who will actually sit on them?  We did a little research and sure enough, broody chickens will raise just about any kind of bird if given the eggs to sit on.

So, a few days ago I took advantage of a time when our teen parents were off gallivanting instead of paying attention to their nest and I stole two eggs.  I carefully carried them up to the chicken coop and slid them in with the broody girl, who was going wild that I was anywhere near her nest.  I closed the lid to the nesting boxes and let her be with her eggs.  When I came back that evening, she had tucked them in underneath her to keep them safe and warm.  Now that's a good mamma bird!

And so a tale of parents and foster parents begins...
We shall see how the eggs being raised by their own parents do compared to the two being raised by, let's just say, a friendly aunt.  We do so hope that they all will hatch.  What fun it will be to have ducklings waddling about again!

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