New Life at the Flying T


Spring is the season of new life.  After the long harsh winter (well, not this year!), the ground thaws, the trees bud, and most animals begin to raise their new young.  This week, a bit late in the spring, brought the first births from the livestock at the Flying T, courtesy of our flock of Muscovy Ducks. Midnight was the first of our flock to begin sitting on a clutch of about 20 eggs in the second week of April.  It is quite likely that those eggs are not just hers, but those of some of the other hens, as the ducks will lay an egg over the course of a week or so before sitting on them.  Other ducks often are stimulated by the sight of those eggs to lay their own in the same place.  In this case, they chose to lay in one of the nesting boxes I made out of recycled pallets. The eggs don’t begin to develop until she sits on them for an extended period of time.  Once she does so, she will stay on the nest for the next ~35 days straight, leaving only for a short time each day for food and water before returning to incubate and guard her clutch.  Our kids often helped her to minimize this time by offering food and water to her in the nest. Anticipation grew at the Flying T as the time neared, and early this week the kids ran in from their morning chores to announce excitedly that the hatch had begun.  “We can hear the eggs peeping!” one of our daughters exclaimed. The hatch took a while – duck eggs are thick and it is quite an athletic feat to break out from one – but in a bit more than a day we were rewarded by the sight of new yellow fuzz: Doc, our drake, was wise enough to observe from a distance while remaining wary of Midnight’s wrath and warning hisses when he got too close.  Zip the quarter horse would also lean over from time to time to see what was going on. Muscovy Ducks are the best mothers of the domestic varieties, but after a bit over two days, Midnight decided that no more time could be spent hatching – the ducklings needed food and water.  Two ducklings were still slowly pushing their way out, but life is not always fair.  Midnight very purposely smashed the remaining two hatching ducklings, then pushed her brood down to the stable floor, maintaining a protective umbrella over them as they adapted to the new world.

Soon, the young ducklings braved the light and began moving a short distance away to eat and drink, and we were finally able to count them all – 17 birds in a variety of patterns.  We’re very excited to see what colors they develop!

 And… in a few weeks, we’re expecting the next brood from Mocha, who earlier in the month chose one of the quartered poly drums I salvaged as the site for her nest.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Loved your shots, Well taken! =)

    Reply

  2. Great photos and story – great info. – Thanks!

    Reply

  3. You have been awarded the Sunshine Award! Details can be found here: http://lifeinanotebook.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/the-sunshine-award/

    Reply

  4. Nature is at once miraculous, powerful and merciless, though perhaps in this case it does know best and sacrificing the last two ducklings was the merciful approach. So hard to take in from the human perspective. Your children must be very strong and wise. So much to learn too, about more than ducks. About life.

    Reply

    • Thanks, Granny. I was surprised at how well they took the loss of the two ducklings. Definitely so much to learn by all of us!

      Reply

      • I am hundreds of miles away and have not experienced this first hand, and yet I find the thought of two ducklings who were actually on their way into the world being trampled and left for dead by their mother utterly painful… but I do understand.

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