Friday, May 15, 2009

Oh, Alice

I guess Alice still really wants to be a mom. Despite flying off and pretty much rejecting her little ducklings, she seems to have a highly developed instinct for actually hatching out the babies.

A few days ago, I found a crazy nest of mixed eggs. There were three duck eggs, a green chicken egg and a brown chicken egg. It seemed that three birds were laying in the same little nest, burrowed into a hay bale in the barn. We didn't know how long the eggs had been there, but since there were not too many, I went ahead and brought them in the house to eat. It couldn't have been more than a few days since they were laid since we still have baby ducks about. Alice must have just started laying again.

A couple days later, I went to check the same spot to pick up any new eggs and Alice was there. I figured she was making her daily deposit, so I left. When she got up to eat breakfast, I found her latest egg, plus a serious clutch of eggs that had previously been hidden. They had to have been there when I pulled the other eggs, but I failed to notice them as they were already packed under feathers and hay. Alice had gotten them ready to brood. I was completely blown away and I definitely wanted to share the crazy nest with Christian, so I left all of the eggs there to show him.

Later we both went out to see the nest and Alice was firmly in place. I told C that we were going to have to take her off of it and remove all of the eggs to break her broody spell. We knew her eggs weren't fertile, as we lost our male a while ago. (I was going to post about it, but C said I wrote entirely too many entries about dead animals. But he actually died two weeks before all of those sweet ducklings were born. A nice legacy for old Karl.)

Anyway, we got a bag to put the eggs in, removed a very unhappy Alice from the nest and pulled out her treasure: about six duck eggs, maybe eight brown chicken eggs, two green chicken eggs and a guinea egg.

Poor Alice. She won't be hatching out that bizarre clan.

And in other failed motherhood news, we are not sure Dinner Duck's nest has any viable eggs in it, either. We believe the time has pretty much come and gone for a successful hatch and we have not seen babies. We candled three of her eggs and found them empty and tossed them. The fourth seemed like it may have had a duckling in it, but now I'm not so sure. I wish I had marked the calendar when she started to set.

Then it seems the two guineas who have been brooding might have dud eggs as well. We pulled one to candle and it was definitely not fertile, either. I can't remember when they began to brood, but I think the three weeks it takes to hatch have come and gone for them as well.

To think I was just bragging about our fertility.

Oh well, at least the guineas can try again. I guess we'll go steal their eggs today. Poor non-mamas.

Edited at 10:30am: Dinner Duck's eggs were not just empty, they were rotten. That's why the light wouldn't penetrate them when we candled. And when I say rotten, I mean stinking, green, I-almost-threw-up-twice-when-we-opened-one rotten. We think she may have started a nest on OLD eggs left over from the days of our Pekins, Maverick and Iceman. ...that would make those eggs about two years old. ...hurl.

Dinner Duck is out and about commiserating with Alice. Things will be fine.


pleintexasgirl said...

You know, just the memory of a rank spoiled egg is making my eyes water. I made the mistake of opening up a curdled egg one time—what was I thinking!! I am now putting images of plump squash blossoms in my mind. Yummmmm...

Brandi said...

our silly hens are doing the same thing. we bought a rooster in hopes that they would have chicks, but they would NEVER brood. i would let 12 or more eggs accumulate in there and they would not set. so we got rid of the rooster; he was terrorizing the kids. and now those crazy chickens brood like crazy on their sad little unfertilized eggs. if they had done that when the rooster was here, we would have chicks! crazy birds.