As time went on, our older ducks had passed and Daisy found herself an only-duck in an all chicken world. We had been allowing the flock to downsize naturally, as a conscious decision. There is always a desire to grow and expand, but that must be carefully balanced with the practical: cost, care and return on investment. As much as we love our farm family, each animal is here for a reason and serves a purpose. Growth without purpose, is a recipe for failure.
Daisy has always been in the company of chickens. They are her companions. She has even adopted a leadership role, and several of the more junior hens will follow her lead. It works. We have harmony. There is unity and peace. It is the sacred pause we work for.
I had a couple of options. I could keep removing the eggs until she finally wearied of the process. Or I could allow her to continue to sit on the eggs until such time she realized they would not hatch and she could move on with her life.
I chose option three. I removed her infertile eggs and replaced them with fertile eggs from our hens. Chicken eggs. Then waited to see what would happen.
She never batted any eye. She sat on those eggs like a champ. For three weeks and one day.
I knew it was a risk. Ducks and chickens have different incubation requirements. Chicks take 21 days to hatch. On day 21 they tend to pop out of their shells like popcorn. I've seen it over and over, it's really quite amazing. The timing of it.
But we were on day 22 and I feared the worst. It was over. I knew that Daisy needed to start eating and drinking again to regain the weight lost from sitting the eggs. Allowing her to remain on the nest, was to allow her to starve to death. My heart was heavy as I headed out that morning to do the daily chores.
Halfway across the yard I heard the sound. I stopped to listen, wondering if my mind was playing tricks on me. Nope. There it was again. I ran the rest of the way to Daisy's enclosure and found the source of the noise.
Daisy was still working the eggs, still focused, still devoted to the cause. But she had succeeded. She hatched a baby chick all by herself and it needed her time and attention. As soon as I could, I lured her away from the nest, collected the remaining eggs and fluffed up her straw. I set fresh food and water out for her, and also for the baby. Then I started childproofing the area, looking for water hazards, etc. When everything felt secure, I settled in to watch.
Afterwards, I candled the eggs that had remained and found that none of them had progressed. There would only be one. A sweet baby girl chick. I named her Peggy Sue.
Please join us next week for a special encore edition of our duck story, featuring little Miss Peggy Sue. Cuteness overload!!