Somewhere between a “quack” and a “cluck” an unlikely family bond formed.
Mere days ago, a 4-year-old female Buff duck named Sidney hatched a duo of yellow fuzzy chicks at Sunshine Farms, fulfilling a yearning to become a mother.
Julie Kleinkauf home-schools her four daughters and said that while they own about 30 animals on their 4-acre farm, they don’t always raise chickens. Usually, the children sell the eggs and use the money for more farm supplies.
“I took the two oldest girls to New York City and while we were gone, not all the hens’ eggs were collected, so some fertilized,” she said. “We don’t have a male duck, so even though she lays eggs herself, they aren’t fertile.”
Lilah, 12, confessed that she took some of the eggs upon their return and placed them with the duck in a stall in the barn where the duck was nesting with her own eggs.
“I think she [Lilah] felt sorry for her since she never could have any of her own,” said Hannah, 14, while watching her younger sisters, Emma, 4, and Alaina, 9, admire the newly hatched chicks.
Lilah, the self-described “chick expert” of the group, said she didn’t know if the chicks would take to the duck or not and was shocked to see they not only took to her but adopted her as if she were their own mother.
Already named Penelope and Tweety Bird, some of the newest farm additions were seen wandering all over their mama duck Wednesday.
“She is very protective of them,” Julie Kleinkauf said. “With her still nesting, we might have more, who knows.”
Being close to chickens is nothing unusual for Sidney. In fact, she thinks she is one herself.
Years ago, the family said, everyone got ducklings. They kept Sidney because she had a club foot. The reason she takes to the chicks so much, the family said, might be because she doesn’t know any better.
“We kept her since she wouldn’t make it on her own,” Julie Kleinkauf said. “She grew up with chickens and has always been so sweet and loving.”
When she isn’t raising chicks, Sidney roams the roost, playing in troughs of water while hanging out with chickens and turkeys.
Sidney’s imprint on the chicks hopefully will be everlasting, but if not, the family is prepared to raise them.
“For now, it’s just really cute for the kids to see her raising them,” said Julie Kleinkauf, who serves on the Orphan Care Ministry through Denton Bible Church. “She was just longing to have babies. She didn’t care they were chickens. ... It’s all part of the crazy small farm antics.”
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.