One of the things I remembered very well when we left the farm for traveling was that on a farm there are good days and bad days. There are days when everything goes well. There are days when you wake up to half a dozen chicken senselessly slaughtered by the neighbor’s dogs. But somehow I had a harder time remembering the roller coaster days.
I woke up to a call from the post office that our ducklings were ready for pick up. I’m pretty sure there are not many better ways to wake up than hearing that twenty super fuzzy adorable little ducklings just waiting to be brought home and gawked at.
My duckling high was quickly brought down by the discovery that one of the rabbits was missing. Since most of our property is wooded, and there are hundreds of hungry predators just waiting for a tasty white rabbit to come hopping along. So I was pretty shocked and more or less thrilled when a few minutes later, the white rabbit came hopping along.
Only to be noticed by the dogs. The dogs’ training to be calm around the rabbits is certainly progressing, but when the rabbit is outside of the cage, it’s much harder. And when the rabbit is loping along the fence line looking delicious, all bets are off.
There aren’t a whole lot of worse ways to start the day than hearing a rabbit scream. It’s horrible. Really horrible. Not the least because very often that scream is a death scream. It’s the last sound rabbits make.
But the rabbit didn’t die. The dogs pinned it down but stopped short of killing it, and just held it for us. The rabbit managed to avoid dying of fright or having a heart attack. We quickly fixed him a new, quieter cage and he settled in pretty nicely.
Then we went to get the ducklings. All happy and fluffy and adorable. We got the Hatchery Choice special, which means that there are several breed of duck–whatever the hatchery had extras of.
My best guess is that there are several Pekins,maybe an Indian Runer or two, a couple domesticated Mallards, some Rouens, and two that are probably Cayugas but possibly Black Indian Runners. We got the brooder set up and released the ducklings.
The joys of seeing the ducklings be all happy was unfortunately dampened when we noticed that one of them didn’t look so hot—I guessed he was a bit cold. Another had a crook neck, which is usually caused by a vitamin e deficiency or an injury. A few minutes later we realized that the little guy who didn’t look so great actually looked horrible. He just wasn’t rallying. He wouldn’t or couldn’t eat or drink and even under the heat lamp he didn’t show any improvement. Upon closer inspection he appeared to have some sort of birth defect, which meant there wasn’t much to be done for him.
It’s fairly common with baby poultry to have at least one that doesn’t make it. They’re surprisingly tough little creatures, but at the same time they are very fragile. But even knowing that losses are a part of raising poultry, it’s still sad when there’s just nothing you can do.
On the other hand, the crook neck duckling was running around, eating and drinking, so we are hopeful that with vitamins he’ll be just fine.
I spent the next several hours obsessively checking on the ducklings. During that time I remembered something else about raising poultry.
Sleeping ducklings are terrifying.
At the end of the day, though, I suppose the score was in favor of a good day.
At any rate, our little farm is growing. We are planning to add chickens next, so whatever else happens, there’s no doubt that things are going to stay busy around here.