After months of what appeared to be decent fence training, two neighbor dogs banded together and rushed our barn to “play” with our last two ducks. The Khaki did not survive this playtime and the Cayuga hurt a wing and may not survive long enough to be killed and parted out for supper tomorrow.
We did not have the best luck with ducks, clearly.
As I’ve probably already noted, we just didn’t really think about the prep that poultry needs for safety. It isn’t a lot of work initially, but it’s a different kind of work than we were expecting. Lining a fence with hardware cloth, for example, wasn’t really on the list, but by all accounts it’s five extra minutes and a lot of saved poultry.
It’s certainly humbling to see how despite growing up “with animals” for much of my childhood, I’m still pretty inexperienced at the basic nuts and bolts of homesteading. Mostly what is missing is a mindset of ordering the environment to meet your goals first instead of ordering the environment based on minimums of cost or time. I mean, if we were getting half our food from the old homestead, losing those ducks would be a pretty big deal, and since our goal is to work towards getting foods we like to eat easier, we’ll have to plan better. Books, the internets and talking to local people with animals are good, but we really haven’t done enough plotting out exactly how to arrange the land we already have to meet our goals.
So that’s the approach we will aim for this coming year.
Out of three laying ducks, two were killed by a small predator, as it crawled under our electronet but didn’t knock it over and it went through a very small gap between two cattle panels. And it wasn’t a hungry one, since I found the corpses near the door of the run. Necks broken I guess, very little in the way of bites. Probably something like a possum, but could be mink or weasel. I am not sure, I’m not familiar with predators who leave whole dead ducks lying around. And the bites were small.
Now that my hands have gotten a chance to recover from the cold, I’m going back out and taking some better pictures of the bite marks for my husband to make his guesses when he gets home and after picture-taking, I’ll bury them in the wood chips.
They lounge around in the stall entrance blocking the gate, chewing their cud in the good shade while the goats bleat and stand a few feet away in the slightly less cool shade next to the entrance.
It’s pretty funny. Of course, when I try to take a picture they slowly get up and file out into the paddock, as far as they can get from the barn. And they do make out like they meant to get up right then and go have a nibble.
In duck news, the weather’s been swinging wildly from cold to superhot and according to the internet, this can stall laying for a few days to several weeks unless the ducks are moved to a more controlled climate setting. It could also be the youth of the ducks, the most regular laying is after 22 weeks for just about all breeds except the very largest. So we may just not see any more until they are all older by a few more weeks.
At least one child has had chicken pox most of the week, and I am wiped out, so that’s all for now.
Tibby was a semi-feral cat we moved out here with. She really thrived as an outdoor cat instead of a moderately unhappy suburban indoor cat, despite her thin fur and small size. She acquitted herself well in fights with the neighbor cats and was a great mouser, single handedly showing the field mice and rats who was boss. She wasn’t the loviest or doviest of cats but she liked us well enough and was happy to enjoy some supplemental cat food alongside the birds and vermin she caught.
Anyway, she had stopped coming by the back door for over a week and we wondered what had happened with her. Well, we found out when we took a weekend stroll into the woods behind the house to pick berries. It was unexpected. She met a larger predator than any neighbor cats on one of the paths and couldn’t get away in time. I really didn’t expect that. The children are too young to know what they saw (some small bits of fur), so there’s that at least.
I’ll always remember Tibby sitting out in the pasture, waiting to kill a bird or a mouse. This is a picture of her doing that I took through one of the windows, so sadly it is kind of blurry.
Tibby was a decent barn cat and had some really happy months out here, so at least we were able to give her that.