Ducklings and chicks are a few of my favorite things. That’s a good thing because we end up with them every spring. Of course, it’s not every year that one of our broody hens hatches chicks and then adopts the ducklings as well.
Now she circles the backyard with her babies under her feathers and around her feet. In a way, she resembles a small winged merry-go-round. The ducklings are twice the size of the chicks but none of them seem to notice or care. There’s actually a very good possibility that even the golden Buff Orpington chick popped from an egg that our sweet broody hen did not lay.
I gather quite a few life lessons from my adventures in animal husbandry and this is one of those occasions. For humans, the “blended” family is one of the most challenging (and rewarding) situations life has to offer. I come from a blended family, in fact. My sister is actually technically my half-sister because we share a father. She came from my father’s first marriage and I was born to her stepmother when she was five. Of course, I never cared about details like “half” or “step” — she was simply my sister and I adored her. I also loved her mother, who never forgot me at holidays and faithfully sent gifts/cards. But things were not always starshine and moonbeams at our house and we were not successful at blending: my parents ultimately divorced. In the years that followed the divorce, I lost touch with my sister and once we were finally able to reconnect — she moved to Australia and got married!
For my broody hen, all of her babies are precious and equally important. She disciplines them with disapproving pecks and comforts them with soft clucks and warm enveloping wings. They eat all of their meals together and nap in the shade side by side. Because of her acceptance and careful monitoring, the ducklings don’t bully the chicks and the chicks happily share their mom’s fluffed feathers with the ducklings. Together, they make the most beautiful family.
If you can’t see the video, click here to watch it on Flickr.