Sunday, August 20, 2006

Claire has Quintuplets

Claire is our matronly 16-year-old pig. She lives in Bailey's (the sheep, whom she evicted) house, right next to the kitchen door. What a perfect place for a pig, waiting for a handout, to live. Claire has three favorite activities. Eating, sleeping and eating.

Yesterday morning, Lena arrived for work at 4:30 a.m. Being late August, it is still dark at that time of the morning. She heard strange and funny sounds coming from Claire's house. Now Claire is a very vocal animal, so strange sounds emanating from her house is not unusual. But they usually sound more like grunts, snorts and growls, than squeaks and quacks. And these noises, very definitely, sounded like squeaks and quacks. And Claire usually doesn’t bother to wake up until she knows breakfast is ready.

Lena grabbed a flashlight and began to investigate. There was certainly something small and yellow in there. Sometimes Claire will share her house with an errant goat or dog, sometimes even an angry goose. But what was in there now?

Five baby ducks! Tiny, tiny little newborn baby ducks, or should that be new hatched baby ducks? And Claire was beginning to wake up, stir about, and rollover. Lena began to fear she would not be able to rescue the ducks before Claire world roll over and squish them. But just in time, Mary showed up, and helped to rescue the ducks, while Lena sat on Claire to keep her still.

So where did these ducks come from? Nobody had been sitting on a nest in Claire's house. No mama duck strolled protectively about. These were very definitely, very newborn. Lena showed them to our general duck population, who scoffed at them, and said, not ours. Several female ducks were tried out as surrogate mothers, but all rejected these babies.

This would be most unusual behavior as ducks are usually very protective of their young. Once in awhile, a duck or goose hides somewhere, and we don't find the nest, and their eggs hatch. We usually do not see the young until they are several days old, and mama parades them by at breakfast time. Usually orphaned ducks, geese, or chickens are adopted very quickly, by mama wannabes. But nobody would accept these ducks.

They are currently living in the LD Chicken Center until they get a little older, and can go out with the other baby birds. These are definitely ducks, I think. Rounded off bills, webby looking feet, yellow down, black streaks, and what looks like it will be enormous tail feathers. Most baby ducks I've seen are just short and rounded on the end, but these tails are very pointy, and stick way up.

Maybe that evil flying duck had babies and hid them in Claire's house, so we have to raise them, instead of her.Or maybe somebody risked the patrol dogs, Joe’s shotgun, and the attack goats, to sneak in and put them there.