Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Chapter 3: Finding Treasure in the Weeds


This white post sits in the middle of our duck paddock. And if you didn't know any better, you'd probably not question its existence. But I know. We all know. It's marking the spot in the paddock where our one remaining female duck has gone broody with a nest. 

We have one loan remaining female and one loan remaining male duck ... due to a coyote. About a year ago, a coyote decimated our duck paddock. It was, as it always is, terribly sad, and, as is often the case with a coyote, he ate very little of what he killed. He simply went on a rampage, killing and not eating. It's nature's way of course. 

But it's still incredibly disappointing.

When we found the dead ducks, there was a nest of eggs out in the paddock that we had overlooked when collecting eggs. We collected the eggs and incubated them. Seven went into the incubator. Three hatched. And after months of raising them, when their feathers came in, we discovered they were ALL MALES.

Seriously?! Not a single female ... what are the odds.

Kind of good I guess.

When it comes to animals on a farm, males are less-then-desirable. You must have a very low number of them or else fighting and death occurs. If you have too many male ducks, they'll kill each other or their ladies. So we were forced to process those three ducks we raised. 

All year, we've waited to see if our remaining female and her male counterpart could create a new nest. And now, here it is. Each day, we patiently wait to see if any of the eggs will hatch. If the Mama will raise these, it's way easier than us trying to raise them in a brooder. So we are hopeful.

If you closer, right at the base of the white post, you will find the nest. It's nearly impossible to see. She's done such a good job camouflaging it and covering it with her own feathers. Not only is it nearly invisible, but her presence keeps predators away. Normally a duck will run away from us if we enter the paddock. But Mama Duck will not get off that nest. Even if I reach down and pet her, she stays firmly planted to her nest. 

Usually, the Mama is sitting on the nest. But if she isn't, and you weren't paying attention, you could easily step on those eggs. 

So we put in a white post to make sure anyone enters the paddock remembers where the Mama is nesting.

I have learned so much about the nature of life due to living on a farm. So much about death and birth. About adorable little lambs and a violent death where its head is eaten off because it wandered too far away from the herd.

I've watched a bear take down a lamb, moving across an entire pasture in just a few huge pounces. We've seen bobcats and coyotes and raccoons on our game-cams, investigating our animals to see if we left any of our t's uncrossed. 

You see the importance of the herd. The importance of protection. The importance of safety in numbers. The importance of electric fencing.

And after a tragedy, you wait to see if a story of survival can emerge from the ashes ...

And you wait to see if the eggs hatch.

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