Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Favorites: Ducklings

This week's Friday Favorite (FF) is definitely ducklings! They're less messy than grown ducks, unfathomably soft, adorably clumsy, hilariously independent and they can provide literally hours of entertainment for anyone who cares to sit still and watch them.

You may remember when I posted (on twitter and facebook, I believe) that I was letting the lady-ducks set on their nest a few weeks ago. We had hoped to get at least few ducks. I personally had my fingers crossed for at least three since last year only one duckling made it after the cold snap (and unfortunately he turned out to be male).


Last week the eggs began to hatch, and out popped eleven glassy eyed, confused little puff balls! Yes, eleven. I had no idea there were going to be so many ducklings. It's honestly more than I had wanted to care for, but since the mom's do most of the work I'm not too worried about it. I just have to muck their coop more often and fill their water a few times a day, really. Obviously it's worth it to see a little flood of ducklings trailing around after their mothers like wake after a boat. The first few days they stayed inside mostly. The mothers were (and still are) incredibly protective so I have very few photographs. 

 Finally after the babies were old enough to venture out, the mothers started taking them out into the world. I've never heard of poultry raising their young together, and I'm pretty sure Fleur and Tonks are unique in that they work together to care for their little fuzzballs.

After a few days of outdoor acclimation, I was able to get close enough to the ducklings to snatch a few and check for health. They're all bright eyed and feisty (perhaps a little much so) and I couldn't help but snuggle a couple against my cheek as they peep-peep-peeped to their mothers. 

All of our ducks are named after members of The Order of the Phoenix, from Harry Potter. Actually, that's kind of a stretch. We named last year's duckling "Neville" since he was always getting picked on and I know Neville wasn't technically a member of the order, but he was a member of the D.A., so I figured he totally deserved to have a duck named after him. The other ducks are Fleur, Bill, Tonks and Remus. We'll be looking for other female Order names in a few weeks when we're able to tell which ducklings are male and female. Unless there are a plethora of female ducklings, we'll be keeping them all and finding homes for the males (or else they hit freezer camp in a few months).

For now the moms are taking excellent care of the ducklings. They take trips to the low water pan that I have out for them, and whenever the ducklings get tired the moms tuck them into a little bundle and sit either on or beside them, never sleeping. Sometimes they hide in the tall grass, especially after a close call. I saw a perfect example of this earlier this morning; I ran out after hearing a commotion and found the mother ducks scolding an over-zealous bluejay who apparently had tried to make off with a duckling. It's got to be a tough life, but they know what they're doing.

Do you have a favorite baby farm animal? Have you been able to resist the temptation to pick it up and rub it against your cheek? :)

Today is Friday, so I'll be blogging over at Not Dabbling in Normal in just a little while here. Be sure to check out today's post on my recent introduction to sour cherries and cherry jam!


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