I haven’t raised any poultry in a long while, it was one of the many extras that had to go while I was working in Seattle. My duck population is low, from attrition and butchering all the males. So I loaded up the incubator with a big batch of eggs.
Meanwhile, the grass grew long in our poultry pen, and I failed to notice a duck hen that had started to set on a batch of eggs. I don’t like them to set, I think it’s a waste of their time. I can hatch eggs with as good, or better rate in the incubator, whereas broody girls suspend laying for weeks or months while they raise a tiny batch of babies. Egg laying breeds are selected for anti-brooding properties, so they aren’t always the best mothers.
But this momma was determined, diving at my calves in aggressive sniper attacks. So I let her have her nest. Then I noticed two more ducks with sneaked broods. Grr. I let them go too. But they all gave up in a panic when their eggs started hatching, leaving babies exposed for the crows to grab. Soon their eggs were pillaged too. I gathered up the remaining eggs, wondering if they had gotten too chilled while the irresponsible mothers yakked up a storm near the water trough.
I considered putting them in the incubator, as those eggs are due to hatch any day now as well. But then I thought about Ms. Chicken, who has been insisting on being broody in the hen house, despite my robbing her eggs each day. She is so broody, even when I pick her up and set her back outside, she squats down and spreads her wing feathers right where she’s plopped. She’s just in the mood to set and set. So I stuck the duck eggs under her, hoping she can finish them out, and maybe satisfy her obsession with having babies.
She carefully tucked them under herself and got them all organized the way she wanted them. This morning, I found this little guy underneath her, peeping away at his adoptive and very responsible mama. Don’t tell them the truth, that they’re not related! They don’t seem to know!