What a roller coaster ride I had on Friday and Saturday! Not literally fortunately!
I had cleaned the duck bath and got everything ready to move the biggest girl duckling in with her parents. Well, that didn't work out at all: dad harassed and abused her so much that she'd done a runner. If I had known what he would have been like I would have interfered a lot earlier, but I had assumed it might take a while for the adult ones to get used to other ducks in their run. Anyway, once I had noticed her escape I tried to find her, after making sure there was no corpse hidden somewhere in the grass! I didn't and had to go to bed feeling absolutely AWFUL! I always try my hardest to make sure all my animals have a happy content and safe life, and here was this duckling now, shell shocked and alone somewhere in the bush in the dark. Hurting someone or something out of ignorance is not an excuse as far as I'm concerned and I made a promise to not let anything similar happen again.
The next morning I checked if she might have come back to her old duck or chicken run, but nothing. No quacks, other than mum and dad calling for their food. So I went about my business as usual, milking the goats and feeding the rest. As I've got four bunny girls on grass diet at the moment, I was looking for an area that needed trimming and while cutting forgot that the post holes STILL haven't been filled up to the top. My foot sank in, scraping along the wooden post and me straining to keep my balance. IT HURT! Evaluated the damage, a 15 cm long and 2cm wide scrape that wasn't bleeding to badly and so I finished the animals first before hobbling back home.
The rest of the day was spent trying to take a bit easier and thinking about some more animal husbandry issues.
Ross and Kara definitely don't like the goats milk. And as I spoke with our neighbour, the dairy farmer, while getting some fresh milk for them, the fact that they are now mainly on a plain grass paddock and don't browse on bushes and other trees anymore, might have had a negative effect on the milk. I'll be sitting down with a calendar and thinking if I can change kidding time and when I can have them browsing on our property again before deciding whether to keep them or not.
As I went outside to talk with my hubby about something later in the afternoon, I heard a classic girl quack and I was about to comment that she was a happy tart again, when I stopped: it didn't quite sound like mum duck. Note to self, I obviously spend too much time talking to my animals that I can reckognize their individual 'voices'. My heart rate went up, instantly hope springing up in my mind and I started calling and talking to the quacking individual as I walked towards the sound. And there she was!
Believe it or not, the feeling of relief was similar to finding my hiding kids in the library again.
She looked a bit worse for wear, but was walking alright and had no major injuries. I tried to herd her back to the run, but as she was struggling in the high grass I picked her up, not that she was that keen on that either, and then carried her back to the run and her younger siblings. I put her in, refilled the bath with fresh water and left her to it. It was so sweet to see her get instantly surrounded by all the younger ones. When I checked on her an hour later she was quietly preening herself and scoffing down some food.
Last night I went to bed feeling infinitely relieved and happy.
As the ducks will have to get into that run as they get bigger, I might have to build a smaller one just for the drake: I've got enough ducklings for this year and don't need any more fertile ones, so if he can't 'behave' and be a gentleman, he will just have to stay in solitary til he's gotten used to having more ducks around. And if he doesn't, I'm sorry to say he will have to go. He's had a good life, so I don't feel particularly sad about that, and I won't put any other young duck through this ordeal again. In my mind there's a huge difference between a quick death and long torture. But first I will give him a chance to change and build a smaller enclosure within the run, so he can see the others. Let's see how he goes with that.
That's all for today, enough as far as I'm concerned,