Thursday, 3 January 2013

A new home for the ducks

From doghouse to duckhouse
Today was a big day for the ducks, who were moving house, not that they knew it until it was time to go to bed.
I spent the day adapting a dog kennel, adding a drop down ramp to double up as a night-time door and a drop down side so we can get access to clean. Ducks seem adept at turning a beautiful, fresh bed of straw into a stinking, muddy mess in just a couple of days. They should be marketed as compost activators.

The ducks enjoying their new surroundings
The ducks may have suspected that something was up, for I drove them into the veg garden today, previously the sole domain of the geese and any poultry capable of flight. They spent the day foraging, dabbling their beaks into the damp grass searching out slugs and other tasty morsels.

Come late afternoon I ushered the geese into the stable for the night, then concentrated my efforts on herding the ducks into their new accommodation. I had deliberately positioned it against the fence and facing the same way as the old house and, to a large extent, this plan worked.

What I hadn't bargained for was that the ducks quickly discovered that they could squeeze round the side and under the pallet which is there to raise the new duckhouse off the ground. From there, they could emerge on the other side, or double back and pop back out from the front.

One in particular decided that this was a great game to play. So each time the other three navigated the ramp, as their tails disappeared into the house, so the fourth ducked down (sorry for the pun) and disappeared under the pallet, causing the other three to waddle back out searching for the missing member of the gang.

Anyway, eventually all worked out fine and all four ducks were safely away for the night.

Now I just need to figure out how to feed them without all the food being gobbled up by the geese.

For the geese need to be able to sustain themselves on grass, with any additions to their diet being treats.
But I doubt that foraging alone will be enough to sustain the ducks. 
My plan is to put the geese to bed late afternoon, then to feed the ducks. This way they will be hungry in the morning and hopefully clear up all the nasty slugs in the veg patch, but will get used to coming to food in the evening ready to be put to bed.


The ducks are growing up. Today, for the first time that I've seen, the drake was getting jiggy with one of the ducks. Maybe we'll start getting duck eggs soon.

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