Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I went to the office supply store today. This was not supposed to happen. But the office supply store is across the street from the Wal-Mart, and just behind the Wal-Mart is Family Farm and Home.
What could possibly be dangerous about going into Family Farm and Home? What? How about 100 gallon galvanized tubs of baby chicks and ducks??!!!
On first glance, I saw no Indian Runner Ducks in the duck tub. Phew, thought I. Another close call. But then I struck up a conversation with the poultry man. I said to him "seems like last year you got Indian Runners." And then he had to come over and look in the tub and say "well, there's one, and that's one, and those two over there, too!"
I was sunk.
I got two Indian Runners, two Ameraucanas, and two Golden Laced Wyandottes. The chicks are pullets (females), but the ducks are what's known as "straight run" which means you get what you get. The box peeped loudly all the way home.
And then I had a decision to make. The heat lamp and a dog crate are in the barn. I could clean it up and give the babies a new home there.
But I also have the new mama hen who hatched two chicks ten days ago. She's still clinging to four eggs, barely gets up off of them. Why not let her baby the new kids? I sat in the isolation pen and opened the box. The rest of the flock lined up outside the chicken wire to investigate. The newly hatched chicks popped out of their crate to see what was up.
Bravely I picked up one teensy baby chick and boldly stuck it under the hen. Withdrawing my hand, I brought one unhatched egg out. Pause. No reaction from Mama. So I put a second chick under her. And a third and a fourth. Only removed two of the eggs. And she just shifted her weight to accommodate the peeps under her.
Then it was time for the ducks. Would she accept them? They are already as big as the 10-day old chicks. Took the darker one, slipped her under Mama. She popped right back out and they looked each other straight in the eye. Mama seemed to be saying "you are the homeliest chick I've ever seen, where'd you get that big schnozz?" But she didn't try to chase the baby away.
The yellow Runner Duck was very eager to join the others. Mama popped her one in the beak (bill), maybe testing to see "is that thing real?" The 10-day chicks checked her out eagerly -- "you're kind of funny looking, but maybe we could be friends!"
When I left the barn, Mama had all eight babies with her, under her outstretched wings. I haven't seen the new chicks since I installed them, but I hear them peeping under her. And the ducklings peep out to see the action, but seem to love their new, warm bed.
Here are some pictures.