As the sun rose this morning, I lurched off the deck to do the dawn chores in more of a fog than usual, thanks to the allergy pill I’d taken the night before. It took me several minutes to realize I was being greeted by far more hungry chicks than normal. The two broody mamas with their five hatchlings quickly figured out if they accompany me to the shed in the morning, delicious kibble will be flung their way. Now they beat me to the shed door every morning, cheeping impatiently until I come outside. This morning, I was greeted with 12 more balls of fluff, accompanied by the white Leghorn I thought we’d lost to a coyote a few weeks ago. Turns out she was sitting on a clutch of forest eggs all this time. I’m kind of embarrassed that I couldn’t find a bright white chicken, no matter where she was nesting back there, but she must have had an excellent spot because I looked for her several times. She didn’t even do me the courtesy of letting me follow her back to her nest tonight, since she decided to commandeer a nesting box in the big coop to shelter her brood at night. I’m just glad she’s fat enough that all her babies can fit underneath her.
The five (yes, we’re up to five now!) ducklings are having a fantastic time in the newly renovated duck pond. Gene’s swim ladder is working perfectly, and I added a pile of safety rocks at the other end, just so they’d have a choice of exits from the pool. Ducklings, especially young ones, tire out easily and might drown if they don’t have an easy way to get out of the water. Now that the pool is toddler proofed, I don’t feel the need to run out there every thirty minutes to make sure no one is having trouble in the water. Don’t get me wrong – I still do it, I just don’t feel compelled. I can watch the ducklings paddle around in there for hours, scrambling up the safety rocks, then jumping off the swim deck to do it again. I also feel a lot better now that we’ve convinced mama duck to sleep in the Duck Mansion at night with her brood, rather than on her exposed nest.
Dusk is my favorite time of night here on the farm; chores are done, and I can sit outside watching the sun set and listen to the soft noises the chickens make while they settle themselves for the evening. The peacefulness is occasionally shattered by the indignant squawk of a hen pushed off a particularly nice roosting spot by a jealous roommate, or by the sharp crack of a .22 coupled with a celebratory whoop as Gene partakes in his favorite nighttime pursuit – ratting.