Friday 18 September 2015

The Ducks

For a few decadent years, I had a lovely neighbour lady come and clean my house. I was working full time and our two children were still quite young. Our neighbour lady cleaned other people's homes and charged a very reasonable rate. Well, the lovely neighbour lady's husband had, and still has, a fantastic collection of birds. He has large walk-in cages and shelters for a variety of birds like peacocks, quail, and pheasants. He also had a gorgeous Tom turkey, some guinea hens, and a collection of comical ducks. These were Indian Runner Ducks. They are slim and very vertical. I had mentioned that I would love some ducks. I thought they would be a really nice addition to our flock of chickens and they were just so funny to watch, running around upright like that.

A while later, I bought two of the young ducks and they were brought here to come live with our chickens and make use of the chicken run and chicken coop. Chickens and ducks together. A real little farm!! One was named Jemima (after Beatrix Potter's Jemima Puddle Duck) and the other was named Bolt (named after famed Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt because it was a runner duck).

The chickens hated the ducks and attacked them to the point of damaging them. It was horrible.

We created a very temporary "duck run" from which one of the ducks escaped and ran into the neighbouring field. We could hear it quacking and ran around with a net in our hands, but we were dodging plant material, and the duck was wiley and fast. We were pretty sure we would never get the duck back. So, we devised a plan. In the evening, after the chickens went in to roost, we put the remaining duck in a cage in the chicken run and left the gate to the run open. We hoped that the duck (safe inside the cage) would quack pathetically and the escaped duck would be lured back to be with its sibling. Sure enough, we checked later on that night and the duck had come back!! It was inside the chicken run close to the cage, so we shut the gate and had both of our ducks back.

We then sectioned off a part of the chicken run (or did we actually expand it? can't remember). Then my husband built a charming little wooden duck  house, since Jemima and Bolt would not be hanging out with the bully-chickens in the coop and we didn't want to risk a predator eating the ducks at night. These two young ducks were becoming an incredible hassle and took far too much of our time and emotional effort. And they wouldn't even let us get close to them, or hold them. Yes, they ran away from us. Bloody runner ducks!
Jemima and Bolt beside their charming little duck house.

So... time went on, and a couple of bags of duck feed later, it was becoming winter. We have a heat source in the chicken coop, but not for the ducks. However, lots of fowl winter just fine as long as they have some shelter. So, they managed o.k. until we went away to a family Christmas gathering and when we came back, we only had one duck and some blood smears in the snow. Not good. So, we asked our lovely neighbour lady's husband where he kept his ducks in the winter. He had a little barn that he put them in, so I asked if he could keep our remaining duck over the winter. He kindly agreed to do that. We gave him our remaining duck feed.

A few weeks after that, he came around to our house to tell us that our other duck was found keeled over in the barn. He didn't know why it died.

I vowed never to have ducks again.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for visiting me. My husband and I love rural Canada and have visited many times over the last twenty or so years. Never in Winter though!
    Interesting story about those Indian runners - attractive aren't they? Hens can be so cruel - they will attack, and often kill, anything weaker than themselves.
    Once, when we had a broody hen, a farmer friend gave me two goose eggs to put under her and I reared a pair of geese. As goslings they were adorable but as adults they were so aggressive I hardly dared to go into the farmyard, so I have them back to him to help in his rearing programme for the Christmas table.
    I shall put you on my side bar so that I can visit your blog regularly. Best wishes.