Saturday, April 10, 2010

Our morning surprise

The barn is usually a fairly noisy place first thing in the morning. The chickens are clucking, the rooster is crowing, the goats are bleating and the ducks are quacking. Well the Rouens are, at least. The Muscovies try hard but only manage a pitiful little squeak.

But today, I noticed another sound amongst the usual cacophony -- a tiny "peep, peep, peep." I looked down into the duck pen and there she was -- our very first hatchling!

After screaming and scaring the hell out of the donkeys and horse (they're a little touchy before breakfast), I went tearing across the barnyard while shouting at the top of my lungs, "Go get the camera, there's a baby duck in the barn!" once again, providing ample entertainment for our barnyard creatures.

We have two ducks sitting on eggs right now. One is in the feed area (she deserves her very own blog post) and the other is in the duck pen. Recently, I'd looked up the incubation period for ducks and while baby chickens hatch in 21 days, Rouen ducks hatch in 28 days and Muscovies in 35 days.

As this is our first time hatching our own -- in fact, we're not hatching anything... we just allowed the ducks to go broody and let nature take its course -- I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm horrible at marking dates but I didn't think she'd been sitting on the eggs all that long. I didn't even know if they were fertile, though I must say that our drakes are quite insatiable when it comes to their attempts at procreation.

Obviously, the boys did their job and so did mama duck.

What I find amazing is that the duckling isn't even technically hers. Mama is a Muscovy while the duckling is a Rouen. Doesn't seem to matter though. Lovely, isn't it?

By the time I finished taking a bazillion photos and finally got the rest of the barn crew fed, I realized it was 11:40 am. Because we weren't expecting babies yet, we had no duckling food on hand and the closest farm supply store -- which is 30 minutes away -- closed in 20 minutes. What's more, it wouldn't be open again until Monday (today is Saturday).

I quickly called the feed store, explained my predicament and pleaded for them to stay open another 15 minutes. After some hawing and humming, the disgruntled voice on the other end of the line agreed and 30 seconds later, the kids and I were in the truck and racing down the driveway.

It's a good thing too because when I got back with the duckling feed and put it and some fresh water into the pen, mama duck finally got off her nest and gave us a peek at the rest of her eggs.

Looks like duckling might have some siblings soon.

This first photo was taken at 1:00 pm.

And two hours later.

I just checked on them about an hour ago and mama is still sitting on her nest. I've read that hatching can take 24 to 48 hours so perhaps by tomorrow, I'll be met with a chorus of "peep, peep, peeps."

In the meantime, I've told the kids that mama needs her rest. She's going to have her wings full with this lot.


Erin said...

So glad you are back on the blog! Nice to see everything waking up in the spring, both the land and the animals, thanks for sharing the baby pics! Gotta ask since we are such Aussie fans... how's Henry? Hope he's doing well, our girl Marley just turned 8 this month and she's still chasing frisbees at a pretty good clip - although she'd rather have some sheep! :)

Mama Pea said...

Woo-Hoo! SOOOO great to see a post from you again. And congratulations on the ducklings. The miracle of birth is such a . . . miracle! Hardly anything cuter than those little fuzzy duckies. said...

Hi Erin, Great to hear from you! I was just on your blog this morning -- before all this duckling madness started -- and I was oogling your seedlings. They're gorgeous! We've got another six weeks until last frost so my tomatoes are still teeny tiny. Sigh. It seems I'm suffering from zone envy -- lol! Thanks for asking about Henry -- he's awesome. He's desperate for something to herd... the ducks are getting pretty tired of his nonsense! We're thinking about adding another dog to the farm in the farm, possibly another Aussie :) I'll devote a post to Henry soon :) said...

Hi Mama Pea, SOOOO good to hear from you too! Yes, the miracle of birth is truly... miraculous. I feel so privelaged to be a spectator to Mother Nature's wonders and so grateful that I get to share my life with these critters. Wow, how's that for sappy!? I just checked on mama and the second egg has hatched -- no photos though.. yet! (Seems the wee tyke is a big camera shy... especially with mama sitting back down on his as soon as she saw me coming!)
Hopefully, I'll be able to post more frequently again. I truly miss it!

Claire said...

We miss it too! :)

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