28 May 2007

Great Nests

We've had several ducks make nests and go broody, in various places all over the property. Some of these nests were in terribly unprotected places, and/or the mother ducks did a lousy job of tending their eggs, and those nests got destroyed.

Several are off in the high weeds, often inside the wire enclosures we've set up around young fruit trees to keep the sheep out. Somehow, ducks can manage to squeeze through or under any fence anyone can build...meaning they figure out odd places to make nests.

One that I especially like is this Khaki Campbell's set-up, in the hollow of an enormous Green Ash tree that borders my vineyard.

And this Cayuga has picked perhaps the safest location: under a pile of old pallets. I don't know how she manages to get in or out, but she's been our most faithful nest-sitter this year.
As I said, there are many more such nests in various places around the property; too many to picture in just one post. I love having heritage breeds of ducks, like Cayugas and Magpies, which will hatch and brood their own young.

Although even the Khaki Campbells --- a production egg duck --- will hatch a clutch of eggs with the best of the heritage breeds, they have proven themselves to be absolutely horrible mothers. Time and again, I've seen them start with eight or ten hatchlings...only to lose one or two per day, until they have zero. Starting last year, we began simply taking ducklings away from the Khaki mothers and brooding them ourselves under heat lamps.

Of course, we can't count our ducklings before they hatch. But hopefully we'll be getting plenty of delicious duck before too long.

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