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The babies arrived – A French Homestead Life

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Owning over fifty birds, you get eggs, lots of them and this year I wanted to try for babies now that we have a more organized set-up. The cous-nous flock with Rudi needed a few additions and I so wanted more Pekin ducks. Poor Heff, our big six year old has arthritis badly and lost his mate Penquin this year, so it will be likely he will not be performing with his curly wurly anymore! Two young ducks we bought from a farm were riddled with septic arthritis and after two months of injections and caring for invalid ducks, who couldn’t walk, they passed. Tragic, upsetting and Pekins very prone to this. I had three girls remaining and our two Runner ducks Lottie and Lucie….the only solution was to breed my own.

Luckily our little batchelor flock had Winston. He is a little over enthusiastic about surfing on top of the girls, but a likely candidate for babies. Armed with twelve eggs, I placed half under Toffee our very broody Pekin, and Heffs new girlfriend, and the rest under Mollie our broody hen. Pekins are rather unsuccessful in breeding often farmers resorting to incubators. Having gone through a hopeful month, the duck nest produced nothing…but Mollie, with my daily turning and wetting the eggs to help humidity, out popped one chick, then another two days later. The other eggs but one had been cast out and eaten by her for protein. The last egg remained and mumma was getting impatient.

Finally the egg opened, a surprised mumma, a little taken back at first by her funny new offspring, proudly announced a third baby. OK it had funny webbed feet, and didn’t look like the other two, but within the next few hours, the little family bonded. I was in a panic to make sure their pen was secure, fresh hemp, water with stones to prevent drowning, baby food, fine to avoid choking. Day by day they grew, mumma very attentive, teaching them how to forage, to choose the right sized grains and to try and stop that funny webbed footed one from swimming. Mollie stressed about duckling, but soon realized it was doing fine.

Duckling became Dottie, the tell-tale male curl on the tail didn’t manifest. I was relieved as I seem to have too many boys here and the splitting out of hormonal months is trying. The little chick, half the size of the other became Pea and her sister, Peach. The oldest thing is that neither Pea or Peach have naked necks. Cous-nous chick’s are duplicates of their parents, mini cute versions. Rudi, their father is a bantam Cous-nous, so maybe there is a strong gene from there eliminating that trait. We have to wait and see how they grow, but fir now they are strong and healthy, curious and mixing with the big girls no problem. Mumma after a couple of weeks, abandoned them. She had done her job and wanted back her freedom. The babies were scared at first, crying and trying to run after her. I kept them seperate and put them to bed, continuing to show them how to peck food, drink regular and Dottie how to swim.

The three are inseparable, with Dottie crying if the others are out of view. The funniest part is that Dottie can’t perch and when the chick’s finally braved the top of their mini perch, Dottie quacked for ages and I even had to lift her up to see that Pea and Peach were OK. Dottie sleeps below and during the day, they stick together like chewing gum! ♡

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