As usual, it’s been a busy few weeks here.
The poultry have thrown themselves into full on egg laying, much to our delight! All was well for a while, until! Suddenly, the ducks seemed to have stopped laying. No more were we greeted by four or five eggs in the duck house each morning. What could be wrong, we thought. Nothing had changed, they all looked well. Then by chance one evening we spotted something at the bottom of the duck pond, in the murky muck at the bottom – an egg or two or three!
The ducks had taken to laying their eggs near or in the pond – silly things! However they’re getting there, we’ve been fishing out eggs from the pond daily! There’s been loads of them!
Meanwhile, in the chicken coop, one of the pale chickens (we were lead to believe they were silkie crosses, but we’re not sure) decided it was broody. Try as we might she wouldn’t budge from the nest box. The other girls took to laying their eggs on top of her as they all have the same favourite next box! She would nestle them safety under her belly and keep them warm. We dont have a cockerel so none are fertile. What a shame we thought, she’s obviously desperate to brood. Then we thought about the duck eggs!
Rather conveniently, the Indian runner eggs are blue, whereas the khaki Campbell’s are white. We have two khaki Campbell drakes. That means the Indian runners had a chance of being fertile. Right we thought, let’s put one under the broody hen! The next day an Indian runner delivered us a beautiful blue egg, so we tucked it under Mrs Broody.
Unbeknownst to me, a few days later, Mr Bumbleandme decided he would put one of the Indian runner eggs he’d fetched out from the pond under Mrs Broody too! I was under the impression he’d found it in the pen. We knew they were different because the first egg had gone quite pale. We asked a wise old neighbour how to tell if an egg is fertile without candles, as we didn’t understand how they worked. He suggested gently shaking the egg by your ear. If you can hear sloshing, then it’s off, throw it away. If you can’t hear very much at all it’s likely to be a good one.
When we got home we tested the two eggs and sure enough the egg that had gone pale sounded very sloshy, so we threw it away. The other one, which had now been under almost three weeks, didn’t make a sound, so we carefully popped it back under arms Broody and left her to it.
One evening, a few days later, I was putting the ducks away and feeding everyone, and did the now usual check of the egg under Mrs Broody. Tonight however, I noticed a hole and I’m sure I saw it move slightly! I ran back to the house shouting to Mr Bumbleandme. We had five minutes of slight panicked excitement and then we set about finding a suitable place for Mrs Broody and the pipping egg!
We decided the cat basket was the perfect cosy hideaway for them and set about lining it with straw. We donned our gloves (broody hens have quite a peck on them!) and carefully moved them from the nest box in the coop to their new temporary home in the spare room. We eagerly watched, but not much happened and Mrs Broody was busy keeping the egg warm under her belly. We reluctantly retreated to leave them in peace in the spare room!
The next morning, still nothing, but I was sure I could hear a little squeak! I went to work with strict instructions to Mr Bumbleandme to keep checking the imminent arrival. I phoned him at lunchtime for news – nothing! Just more of the chirping I’d heard that morning. As soon as it reached five o’clock I dashed home from work and was greeted by a very excited Mr Bumbleandme! We’ve had a duckling he said!
Oh my word, what are we supposed to do with a duckling!! It’s was all fluffy by the time I saw it, chirping away, popping it’s head out from under Mrs Broody!
For the next day or so we left them to it, just giving them food and water. Then one evening I noticed a horrid smell coming from the spare room! I had no idea how smelly chicken/duckling pooh can be! They’ll have to go! I proclaimed! We hunted around for an alternative temporary home for them and found the box that the originally ducklings arrived in. It was much bigger than the cat basket and we covered the top of the box with chicken wire so we could see them. We settled them in the summerhouse – no way they were coming back indoors with us!
They settled in really well and were fine for about a week! We realised this was no long term solution to the housing situation and we would have to find something more permanent for them. It was also important to bring them closer to the rest of the gang. Mr Bumbleandme heard about a poultry car boot sale nearby and went off looking for a permanent solution. Never heard of a poultry car boot sale before, what a great idea! He returned smiling having found the perfect solution!
Poor duckling wasn’t even two weeks old and it had moved house three times!
They’ve settled in really well and the ducks have been having a really good nose into the run each day. We’ve no idea who mum and dad are, but we’re hoping they will let the duckling settling in with them when he’s old enough.
Obviously we’ve no idea what sex it is yet, but we’ve decided to call it ‘him’ in the hope it’ll actually be a girl! We’ve also named him Nemo from the film. Well he did come from the pond after all!
Nemo is almost three weeks old now and is just starting to get his proper feathers. He churps away when we call his name and comes running out to see us, althoug he won’t let us pick him up and Mrs Broody is still very protective of him. He snuggles under Mrs Broody at night and pops his head out when we say goodnight. His favouritst thing in the world is dunking his beak in water. He loves it when I pour water from the watering can through the run wire into the metal drinker and it spills over, he churps away excitedly and nuzzles is beak in the muddy water. His water bowl is always filthy – a sign of a true duckling!
Isn’t nature amazing! The egg couldn’t have been in the water very long before Mr Bumbleandme took it out. And to think the first time we ever try to hatch an egg, it worked! This time last year we had no poultry, and now we have seven ducks, four chickens and duckling (who probably thinks it’s a chick!). It’s amazing what you can achieve so soon, isn’t it!