We have two momma ducks sitting on nests but this little momma is extra special to me.
This is the daughter of our old lady duck, who I spent much of the winter of 2018-2019 nursing along because she was struggling with age-related issues and an illness. I questioned my stockmanship daily as I doted on the old gal, wondering who in their right mind coddles a half blind, elderly duck instead of just culling. But she is a sweet old gal who I just plain liked and so she got all the babying she needed.
She returned that favor by setting and hatching out two babies at the ripe old age of 8 last summer—all by herself in our west pasture. Though a “non-broody, commercial egg-laying” Pekin, she took better care of those babies than any of the “bred to be good moms” hens of any ilk that I have had.
Her son went to live at the neighbor’s but I made sure her daughter stayed—they were and are still very close. All winter long they could be found together—the daughter waiting for her slower, arthritic mom as they tooled from pond to feed to their favorite napping spot in the sunny part of the shed. The rest of the ducks would scoot on ahead to their destination but those two would take their pace as they found it—one hobbled and slow and the other content to wait for her mom to get there in her own good time. I doubt those two were ever more than 5 feet apart.
While my other ducks have their “waiting line” nest they have been all laying in (and now one has volunteered to set in it), my old lady duck and her beloved daughter went off on their own and created this nest in the straw bales. Last week they must have deemed it full and this week the official setting has begun…but this time it was the daughter who will do the duty of setting. Setting hens only get up to eat and drink once a day and must guard that nest from all comers…it’s a strenuous job and one I was surprised the old lady duck was able to do last year. But her daughter has settled in and is so far doing an exemplary job.
Her mom stays close and joins her for the brief time she takes to eat and drink. You can feel the expectation these two have for those eggs. I have a funny feeling that “grandma” will probably help care for the babies when they arrive. ❤️