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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Good Day Bad Day

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.

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See! He’s fine!

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.

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A colorful bunch.

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.

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Be free little 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.

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The yellow duckling was scaring me a little.

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.