Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Maybelle is a mama who will go down in infamy, at least in my book.

You might remember Maybelle was sitting on 4 duck eggs and 1 goose egg.  I had no idea when she actually sat, but my guess was March 24th-ish, putting her "due date" around here sometime.  Well, on Saturday, after I came back from picking up Dulci, my son tells me he thinks he saw a little baby in with Maybelle in her house.  Of course, I had to check it out, and lo and behold, there was!  But it wasn't a duck.  It was this little one:

Was kind of hoping it would be a little Maybelle, but it seems it might be a little Arthur, instead.  OY!!
The one goose egg.  Of course!  It would be the one I was sort of hoping wouldn't hatch.  I got a look at baby and mama, and she seemed to be doing alright.  The baby was hiding under her wing, as goslings do, and Maybelle was completely over-reacting to my presence, the way new mamas do, so I left her alone.

The next night I went to check and see if there were any more developments, and I found Charles in the house with her, harassing her.  She was very agitated, and had crushed two of her eggs.  One I could not save.  The other was peeping and wiggling, so I brought it in, away from the insanity, to hatch.  I also removed Charles and shut the door on Maybelle to give her some peace.  The little one hatched, and it was this little one:

Mutt duck:  Khaki Campbell/Welsh Harlequin cross. 
A Khaki Harlequin?  A Welsh Campbell?
I kept the baby inside for the night, under a heat lamp.  The next day (yesterday), I brought it out, and put it with mama and checked the other eggs.  She accepted the baby, and the other eggs were not hatching, so I gave mama some food and water, locked the door so she could have some peace, and left her alone. 

All seemed fine until I went to check on her last night.  Turned out that the two eggs hatched during the day, and for some reason I cannot understand, Maybelle killed her babies.  When I got to them, they were both crushed.  How heartbreaking.  Needless to say, I was very upset at how senseless it all was.  I removed the last duckling from under her (the one that hatched previously), and put it with the four that are in the brooder currently.  I left her the gosling.  She'd had it since Saturday, and it had a tendency to sleep in her wing or on her back, so I didn't feel that it would be crushed.  Possibly she just did not understand that ducklings do not do that and misjudged.  I don't know.  I didn't want to risk any more lives, so I left her with her "own kind".

Fast forward to this morning, when I get up to do the morning feedings, and found the gosling wandering around out in the goose yard, being attacked by every goose out there.  Where was mama?  Inside her house (which was open, by the way), not a care in the world.

Motherly instinct, my eye.  I tried to give the baby back, but she went starkers.  I took the baby inside to be in the brooder with the other five ducks.  The little one settled right in.

As always, the gosling's the one with the big mouth!
Now there are 6 inside the large brooder, and Maybelle is out with the gaggle like she hasn't a care in the world.  Fantastic. 

Compare that, if you will, to Ginger.  She's a pariah with the gaggle, and she only hatched ducks, but she is so vigilant and careful with them, it's not even funny.
"I keep telling you!  Stay AWAY from my children!!!"

"We are SOOOOOOO outta here!"
She walks around all day long with the two little ones circling her feet like she's a planet and they're her moons.  She never steps on them and she takes them everywhere she goes.  She's even figured out that they should sleep in her house with her at night, instead of in the bushes (yeay!).  She's a good mama.

Maybelle, not so much.  I played the shouldawouldacoulda game all last night, while I beat myself up for not doing something sooner.  Or seeing this happening.  But how could I have?  It was a tough lesson to learn though, and it cost two lives to learn it.  I don't ever relish adding to our cemetery, and it seems I've been adding to it too much lately.  This one was a tough one, I'll tell you that. 

This life has so much joy, and so much sadness, doesn't it?  This is one of those "mixed blessings" kind of times, and it's hard to know whether to laugh or cry.  Hell, maybe I'll do both.

Be happy, friends,

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  1. Awww, sorry you had to deal with that. But you have those precious little ones in your charge now. It is what it is and it is for a reason. I guess Maybelle feels like she's done her work and turned the rest over to you.

  2. WOW. Never fun when the critters die. Never can tell what the animals are thinking. Sounds like you tried though. And true it is what it is. Don't be too hard on yourself. It's farm life.

  3. Sorry you had to deal with such sadness, but you learned a lesson about Maybelle. And you need to focus on all the little new lives you have added! Praying that all goes better from here on out! Blessings, Kelly

  4. I always assume that animal instincts will kick in and mothers will automatically take care of their young, but that's not the case. I've seen it here, too, with my sheep. But either way, we always look forward to babies in the Spring!


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