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Friday, 24 August 2007

Eggciting News!

Duane's dad has been in the hospital for over two weeks now due to a stroke and let me tell you, I have sure missed his presence around the farm. I would hear him drive in sometimes as early as 5:00 a.m. to let the chickens out, fill their feeding trays, get them fresh water and maintain the roost. Next visit would be around noon when he'd bring the first collection of eggs for the day and on special occasions I'd get a funny little story about the animals. I'd see him again in the afternoon tending to the vegetable garden or mowing our lawn... the incredible generosity of his time is truly a gift. It's been quiet without him around and the farm feels somewhat lonely.

As we have been eagerly anticipating his recovery and return to the farm, I have taken on caring for the chickens and goats. This has included overcoming a phobia of being attacked by a chicken (ok, not a phobia but those things creep me out sometimes) only to have one attack my hand while collecting an egg. I now wear gloves. I've cleaned the eggs of yummy sticky chicken poop and have developed a little muscle (much needed) from carrying 4 gallon water pales to and from the well. I've chased the goats either out of the chicken coop or off its roof and have inhaled far too many spider webs.

Chickens, I have discovered, are very punctual. If ever I'm not at the chicken coop by 7:00 am to let them out, they are all pooled around the little door in anticipation of their daily freedom and it is a madhouse as they all try to get out simultaneously!

The funniest was this morning... One chicken has decided to create a little nest between two straw bales as you walk into the coop. Three of our kittens decided this was the best place to sleep at night. This morning they were too slow in getting out of the little haven and found themselves sat on by the chicken!! We had to pick up the pecking chicken to free the kittens who somehow didn't seem bothered by the whole affair. Really, though... a chicken hatching kittens??? No wonder dad loved doing this every day!

Just before dad went into the hospital, our Muscovy ducks had laid nearly 18 eggs. We weren't sure if they were fertilized or not (although Duane claims he witnessed the awkward "special hug" from afar one time). The mother duck left her eggs in random places and we feared her instincts weren't kicking in. Dad found a roosting chicken, stuck her in a cage with the collected duck eggs in hopes we could keep them from getting cold and dying. Eventually, by the time the mama duck layed her last eight eggs, she had created a nest and was protecting it diligently. Last week she wouldn't even leave the nest so we knew it must be getting close to hatching time. We put the other eggs that were with the roosting chicken back with the mama duck and her nest... hoping for the best. All we needed were ducklings being hatched by a chicken... but hey, with hatching kittens, maybe this isn't too unrealistic?

Even dad's been asking about the duck eggs.

Tonight, my regular routine of collecting the 6:00 pm round brought me face to face with the mama duck out and about in the yard! Could it be?? I got to the chicken coop where she's nested and before I even opened the door, I could hear a little "peep, peep." I opened the door and hidden down by the trough was a tiny little duckling head staring at me. I picked it up and said "welcome, little one!" and pet it as it closed its little eyes. When I began to quack (what a sight this would be for a stranger) it quacked back excitedly. Hopefully I didn't quack "tonight's menu is duckling"...

The other eggs are still in the nest but considering the mama laid one a day for two weeks, I'm guessing they will hatch one day at a time, too. How exciting! It's like a new present every day for two weeks straight! You can see in this picture the remaining eggs in the nest in the back. Let's hope they all hatch ok. I didn't like the way the rooster was eyeing up the duckling before I left, especially with the mama duck out in the yard. And of course there's the cats... Oh nature, don't be morbid this time around, ok??? But I guess that's why they lay 18 eggs?

I went and got Anika to introduce her to our newest farm addition. She was actually gentle with it!

Before I left, little Duckie decided to hang out by my rubber boots. I mean, who doesn't want to hang out by yucky, chicken-poop-filled rubber boots, right? As you can see from this picture, one would have to pay close attention to where they are stepping. This little guy is just tiny!

I know my last farm posting was rather morbid about dying cats and that I was feeling rather down about farm life at that moment, but this just puts it all back up there with "Farm life ROCKS!"

When I went to put the chickens in for the night just now, mama duck was back on her nest but I couldn't see Duckie anywhere. I quacked and sure enough a tiny "peep, peep" replied but not from the nest. I couldn't figure out where this duckling was. Finally, I looked down at the pail of water sitting in an old tire and sure enough a little "peep, peep" came from it. I moved the bucket and there was Duckie hiding inside the tire. I put him back near his mama and she snatched him up with her beak so fast, I thought she was going to eat him! Let's hope Duckie is still there tomorrow morning... Maybe I did quack "tonight's menu is duckling". (sigh)

So there you have it, our newest member... Duckie. Now to think of original names for the remaining 17 that will hatch. Any suggestions?

Hope life is as fascinating for all of you out there. It's a good reminder that while we are preoccupied with our own lives, there are countless miracles happening around us without our knowing. Remember that the next time your car won't start in the middle of rush hour... just maybe there's a duckling peeping around nearby... and not getting run over by a vehicle!

Take care, everyone! Please keep Duane's dad in your prayers. And God bless!

1 comment:

Cindy said...

I hope that your father in law recovers quickly. Love the pics.