There seems to be some sort of spring madness going on around here. I have noticed before that ‘going broody’ seems to be contagious, but this year, it seems a little excessive. After the first hen went broody (the black and white barred one), 3 others joined her in her box, fighting each other over the eggs. We keep having to add boxes and share the eggs out between them, so we won’t have to deal with a ‘baby boom’ of forty chicks in a few weeks’ time. The eggs of the first hen are supposed to hatch this friday, so anticipation is mounting!
The guinea fowl are laying scores of eggs – the last time I counted, there were 48 in two different nests. They don’t seem to be in a hurry to brood, though. One of our ducks couldn’t resist the sight off all those lovely eggs just lying there, and decided to sit on them. If it was a hen, I might have let her, but I really didn’t think a duck hatching guinea fowl chicks would be a good idea. I mean, what would happen if she took them for a swim..? I pitched her off, but she went straight back again and again, even chasing away the guinea fowl trying to lay in the nest. In the end, I had to lock her in a cage. She’s been in there for three days now and still runs straight back to the nest every time I let her out.
We also have run into a slight situation with baby bunnies. Our rabbits seem to be extremely fertile, to the point of being able to mate through a fence. It’s the only explanation for the latest bunny litter I found, because the females were in a locked cage. How? How do they do it?? There is no way the male could have broken in, unless he knows how to pick the lock. The miracle babies belong to Mitzi, our brown New Zealand female, and judging to the patterns of the babies, the father is Bobby, our broken chinchilla lionhead male. As if an unexpected litter wasn’t enough, she had ten babies. Ten! One of them didn’t survive, but the other nine seem to be perfectly healthy. I have to say they are extremely cute – all different. Impossible not to love them, of course!
Mitzi’s cage mate, Choco the lionhead female, had six babies by Bobby three weeks ago, so this cage is literally crawling with baby bunnies now. I thought that was going to be the end of it, but it was not to be. Two days ago, a friend called me in tears: her rabbit had died unexpected and mysteriously, leaving six two-week old baby bunnies. She begged me to take them on if I had a nursing mother. There is no substitute for rabbit milk and it was almost certain the bunnies would die if I didn’t take them. How could I not? Even if I wasn’t a wuss and a sucker for animals in need, Ira and Sunny are seriously lovely people. I had to help.
So, Ira came and brought her six baby bunnies and we put them in the nest with Mitzi’s nine, who were ten days old. I have to say I had to swallow for a moment when I saw the nest, baby bunnies spilling out in all directions. How would Mitzi be able to feed all of them..? Had I just given her own, younger babies a death sentence..? I hardly slept that night, thinking I’d made a big mistake.
Fortunately, I was wrong. Mitzi seems to be well up to the challenge. She has had fifteen babies for two days now, and they all look healthy and well-fed. She definitely deserves a medal for Mother of the Year. And a lot of extra good, protein-filled food. Bobby stays under lock and key – I don’t want Mitzi to get pregnant yet again this year. And preferably not next year, either.