Sunday, June 05, 2011

things are not as they seem !

There once was an ugly duckling,
With feathers all stubby and brown ...
As far as one of our big red hens is concerned, things are not quite as they should be.  She's been sitting patiently (a little longer than usual) on a clutch of eggs.  These eggs are special, in that they need moistening on a daily basis, so we have a plant mister next to the chicken tractor for this task.

The eggs were due to hatch on Tuesday next.  Doing the morning rounds of the animals today, I lifted the hen off to spray the eggs and was surprised to see a mess of broken shells and cute baby ducklings.

The original idea it was that Gabrielle wanted to try ducks for the first time this year and thought hatching them from eggs would give us tamer (therefore easier and more pleasurable to manage) ducks than buying ducklings from the market.  We don't have a mother duck and had read that ducks can make poor mums and that a chicken will do a good, if not better, job of it.  As soon as one of our large chickens became broody, we bought eight Aylesbury duck eggs for a euro each and tucked them under her.

Why the plant mister?  A duck will leave to eat and return to the nest each day with wet feathers, so we'd read that one should moisten the eggs if they are beneath a chicken.

And what does mum think of it all?  Fiercely protective if I try to lift her off to have a look and seems to be very proud of her new offspring.  A case of instinct overcoming any poultry prejudice.  Heaven knows what she'll think when her 'chicks' head for the water.