Movin’ Out

When the ducks arrived as adorable little flufflings, we knew, of course, that they wouldn’t always be adorable little flufflings.

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Awww. So cute. 

Even so, it’s not always easy to remember just how quickly ducklings grow into teenager ducks or just how messy teenager ducks are. The answer: more messy than you can believe even when you are looking at the mess. Even when you know and have experienced duck messiness first hand, it’s STILL hard to believe how gross they are.

If ducks had a super power, it would be mess making.

The messy, messy teenager ducks were rapidly outgrowing their brooder and defeating every attempt to keep their cozy indoor home clean and dry. Or even clean or dry. We tried several configurations, and then reached the conclusion that it simply couldn’t be done. They are just too messy. So they needed to move outside.

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In the box on their way to their new home in the great outdoors. An approximately one minute journey about which the ducklings were not happy. 

The internet insists that ducklings should not be moved out of their brooder until they are fully feathered. But looking at the ducks, it was clear that 1) they were staying plenty warm as long as they were dry, and 2) hygiene was more important than walls. In an outdoor pen, we would at least have So we got the final rabbit tractor built, and the rabbit moved out of the chicken tractor and the ducks moved into the chicken tractor yesterday morning. We kept a close eye on them through the day and aside from being a bit freaked out to be outside with the big scary world all around, they seemed happy.

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What?!? There’s like, extra space here?!?

They have a nice straw floor in their house, and their heat lamps are still there. They don’t appear to mind the cold at all, and they were busy swimming last night when it was 40 degrees, so I expect they’ll be just fine. They’ll probably just get their feathers a little bit faster.

 

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Steady as She Goes.

It’s been mostly smooth sailing here for the past week. now that we have the first couple weeks and the holidays behind us, we’ve gotten into the swing of things, complete with routines and a semblance of order and everything.

 

The flouffs came out of their nest to explore. They met Bob whose training has really paid off, and Rex, who really doesn’t care about rabbits if he’s not allowed to eat them.

 

On the “not quite so convenient” side of the scale, the four pigs discovered that they can get out of their pen. They only get out (generally) when they’ve run out of their favorite foods and are ready to be moved. So far there has only been one actual breakout attempt.

The bright side of that is that the pigs are very easy to catch. Shake a bucket, shout their ames, and voila, the four little pigs come running home.

 

The chickens are learning to be free range chickens as we slowly figure out how to give them run of the place and keep them safe at the same time. No chicken likes to be cooped up.

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Their new run can be moved daily to give them fresh ground (which they make short work of) and still gives them the comfort of their house at night. Eventually they will have a moveable house as well, but for the moment it looks like their mobile house has been hijacked and turned into a garage for a lawnmower.

We’ve finished the rabbit pens for all but one rabbit–which means that he’s got the chicken mansion all to himself. It’s been interesting to watch the rabbits adapt to a lifestyle of living in moveable pens, and to see the different levels at which they are at ease. Rhonda, for instance, appears to be 100% happy in her house. She has been pretty well settled in there since day one with no real problems. The two males, known as Barrel Rider (he temporarily had a five gallon bucket as a house and liked to sit on top of it) and Mr. Rabbit (honestly, he just doesn’t display enough personality to have earned a better name.) are also pretty well pleased with their bachelor pads. Mr. Rabbit remains the jumpier of the two, while Barrel Rider is very nearly as chilled out as Rhonda.

The last rabbit is Granny. Granny is the mother of the others. She’s older, and wasn’t exposed to this lifestyle as a younger, so it’s easy to understand why she’s not quite as in love with it.

But she does seem to enjoy herself. She’s even got a new hobby.

Granny likes to dig.

It’s interesting because both Barrel Rider and Mr. Rabbit have dug a little bit. Granny does not seem to be trying to escape, just to burrow. She’s moved daily to new ground, so one night’s work is all she gets done. She has a house that she could go in, but she prefers to build her own.

For her own safety–so that she doesn’t get out and nothing gets in–we will probably redesign her enclosure with slats on the bottom so that she cannot dig but can still graze.

And since everything is going so smoothly, tomorrow we will get started on the big project of making an outdoor space for the ducklings and chicks who are rapidly outgrowing their brooders.