Wednesday, November 27, 2013

News from the orchard, part 3: Double mummas

You may (or may not) remember that last summer, we had a sitting duck and a sitting hen. We were very excited about the prospect of babies but, alas, the babies did not hatch, on account of the poor birds sitting through two 45+ degree days. Yep, it was frikkin' hot, and poultry embryos weren't up for it. We also lost a hen, but stories abound of people losing whole flocks of chickens, prime breeding rabbits, goats, sheep... It was a terrible couple of days. So we got off light.

Anyways, we're hoping the current lot of broodies have a better time of it, and hopefully hatch some babies!

The current broody season started off with one of our light sussex hens on a clutch of about 14 eggs. A week or so into her sit, a second light sussex also started to brood on her own clutch, but she was so aggressive I couldn't get anywhere near it to count the eggs. We got these hens from a neighbour down the road, and everyone we know who got hens from this neighbour all have broodies right now. Reliable, it seems. Anyways, a few days before the first clutch were due to hatch, that broody hen abandoned her nest to join forces with the second sitting hen. Seems they're picking up on the double mumma vibe that's going on around here...
Apparently it's not exactly unusual  for 2 hens to sit on the one nest and co-parent the hatched chicks. All the usual benefits apply: 2 hens mean that the eggs get kept warm while one hen goes off the nest for food or water. 2 hens also mean that once the eggs hatch, the chicks have double the protection, as both hens work together to look after the chicks. And of course everyone knows that children from same-sex parents have statistically better academic and social outcomes.

Hilariously, the hens aren't the only ones joining in with the double mumma thing: we also have a pair of ducks sitting together. I know!! What is going on around here??!! I have no idea how many eggs those girls are on, but we're all really hoping the ducklings hatch on account of the fact that baby ducks are outrageously cute!!
We do also have another duck sitting (alone) on a very serious-looking nest in a patch of broadbeans behind the pizza oven. I have no idea how long she's been there (we only noticed her on the weekend, when we were cooking pizzas) or what she's sitting on - she is incredibly conscientious about thoroughly covering up her eggs when she leaves the nest for a forage in the grass. So if and when she hatches her eggs, it'll be a lovely surprise!


  1. Haha! Hey, is that statistic really true??? I'm googling right now!!! LOL ... but I really am .... Cute duckies and chookies. I so hope you get some bubbas. They are so lovely:) x

  2. Ohh here's hoping for some healthy hatchlings in the coming weeks. New chicks are just the cutest little things.
    I noticed today a little sparrow fly from the chook shed with a feather in its mouth so birds all round must be preparing for new chicks.