It’s a real generation game in the poultry stockade! Our four new hens are fully-grown and Maisie Chicken is laying eggs, compact brown ones with a light speckle. Clarrie hen has gone broody, and Magda and Dolores continue to prefer the duck house for egg laying.
Our ten spring ducklings are now fully mature, flying, and every morning, descend like a horde of Viking invaders onto the hen house and pillage the leftover corn. Their diet is supplemented by weeds from the kitchen garden and any veg snippings, like tomato leaves and gone-over pea shoots. They haven’t yet realised that they can fly over the fence…
The later three have adult feathers, and we have two new fortnight-old ducklings, called Miracle and Jack. Thereby hangs a tale…. Jack is named after Jack, the three year old who would really have preferred to move in with the ducklings rather than stay with his family in Crownwheel Cottage. The ducklings last year made such an impression on Jack as a toddler, that he still remembers that we used to keep them in the courtyard. Luckily, the day Jack arrived, some ducklings hatched…. it just made his holiday, so we just had to name one after him.
Miracle had a different start to life. He took all day to hatch and when we checked in the morning, there he was, still and lifeless. He’d clearly hatched, been damp from yolk, and was too weak to snuggle under his mother’s feathers. He was dead. I went to pick up his body, and then he twitched… What was the warmest place to put him? Hmmm… this was an emergency… so, I popped him into my cleavage, where he sat, a little block of ice, until he began to warm up and wriggle, and then popped his head out over my T-Shirt.
We rushed him to Intensive Care in a cardboard punnet filled with straw and feathers from the nest, and put him on the (closed) simmering ring of the Aga. After two hours, he was leaping out of the punnet so we returned him to Mum, where John fixed up a heat lamp, just to make sure. He is thriving, and now spends his days with Jack and his mum, Pretty Duck, in the fruit cage!