Archive for the ‘Ducks’ Category

Notes from ‘Rivendale’ #21

Posted: December 2, 2017 in Chickens, Ducks
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December already! It’s pouring down outside, a Summer storm putting paid to plans to go shopping. Luckily, I mowed the lawn earlier in the day. Not much is in the garden, only some silverbeet so that’s a major job for the holidays. I have some small tomato plants in pots ready to go. My attempt at a green house failed. The wood I put on the roof got soaked and weighed down the plastic pipes supporting the roof of plastic sheeting. So I’ll have to use smaller plastic pipes for the cross pieces. Anyway, not a biggy as they say. Just noticed the kiwifruit vine and it’s enormous and very thick over the old chook house. Hopefully, we’ll get lots of kiwis again this year.

Update on the farm animals. We have about 25 new chickens of various ages and 6 baby ducklings hatched out about 2 weeks ago. The ducklings are very yellow but two have black markings as well, a bit more than the black marked ducks we already have. I have about 5 duck eggs in the incubator due out on the 11th of December. Some of the chicken eggs we hatched came from a lovely little black hen that was taken by a fox. We found a secret stash of her eggs sitting in hay in a small shed out the back so I put a couple in for incubation and they hatched. As usual we have also had a few losses, the worst of which was Swampy. While we were off on a few days holiday in Bendigo, Swampy was taken by a fox. I miss him still a few months later. He was a very sociable little bird and always come up to us when we were outside wanting some food or just curiously pecking at my hoes. He ‘helped’ build the duck house, well gave me company anyway while I was building it. I have never known a bird so keen to hang around us, that’s because I raised him form a small peet.

My retirement from school teaching  is imminent so I am looking forward to having lots of daylight hours to achieve things on the farm not the least of which is to get fit again. There is always so much to do, but I am determined to get things done one by one.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Last weekend two fabulous sunny days, wow! This is after about 5 weeks of rain everyday. Still, up on the Highlands, we don’t flood like those poor people in Queensland and northern NSW whose homes have been washed away and emersed in flood waters for days. On my birthday, I stayed back in town for coffee with friends. It had been raining all day and was getting heavier. From the coffee lounge, we heard ambulances and fire engines race down the street. It was nearly 5, I decided I’d better head home and was hoping the roads were still open. Kangaloon Rd was full of stopped traffic so I turned back and headed back to Moss Vale where I quickly saw the reason for the emergency vehicles. A side street was flooded and a car partly submerged. Those residents wouldn’t be getting out of their home for a while.

Now on the Illawarra Highway, I was reminded by the warnings of my friend , Sandy, that the SES said only 15 cm of water rushing over a road was enough to make a car drift and be washed away due to the sheer momentum this much water has. All was going well, despite the heavy rain, when I came to a causeway rushing over the road. It wasn’t really deep but I remembered the warning. Also I was driving the Golf, not a good car to tackle any depth of water so I stopped. I think people were annoyed behind me, but I wasn’t going to risk it. A police car was parked on the other side of the causeway facing Moss Vale and I tried to yell out to them. I got out and checked the water. No way. I was going back. Another Police car drove up next to me, a big four wheel drive and I told him I was turning around. He went through ok but I turned my little Golf and headed back to town. Thinking I wasn’t going to get home today and I’d have to stay with friends in town, I tried Sheep Wash Road hoping it wasn’t flooded as well. Luckily, I got to the Kangaloon Rd turn off and was grateful. For once I was glad of its hilly terrain. I negotiated it well and was on the downhill run to home. Beside me, masses of muddy water was washing off the paddocks and down the incline onto the road. I scooted home.

My driveway was a miniature creek. I have never seen so much water running down it. At last I was home. The trip had taken twice as long as normal. And who, may you ask, was happy in this torrent? Two groups on the farm, the cat, our all black Foxy, was inside ensconced in the warm, her belly full; and the ducks, happy as Larry, white as snow from all the fun in the puddles and small lakes on the farm. Their bellies full of worms and small creatures flushed out of the ground and the lush as ever green grass. It’s good to know, something enjoys torrential rain. It’s a timely reminder to all small farmers to keep livestock that actually do enjoy your climate. Where we live is too wet for sheep. When the climate was drier , they seemed to do ok but I’d never keep them now. They get foot rot and fly blown and other equally horrible diseases. They do better on the less lush grass and solid soil out west. I’m sticking to my poultry.

Notes from ‘Rivendale’ #17

Posted: January 11, 2017 in Chickens, Ducks
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Lots of babies are growing or being born at the moment including my first grandchild who came into the world on the 6th of January, 2017 at 5.25 am. She is very pretty and both she and her mother are doing well. On the farm front, we had 3 chickens hatch in the incubator from a flighty hen who did not take well to being moved. Her mother, also a flighty white silkie cross, had raised two chickens and was in a separate pen with another hen. Two wasn’t enough it seemed, so she starting sitting again. Of course, without a rooster in with them the eggs aren’t fertile. I had 7 or so fertile eggs left in the incubator a few days from hatching and one of those synchronicity movements occurred. Hen with infertile eggs, eggs in incubator, why not get them together? She sits for less, I don’t have to care for chicks , a win-win situation.So the mother is now sitting on the daughter’s eggs which were themselves laid by different hens in another pen!

Here is a little duck/ water hen story: 4 ducklings were raised in the incubator with a few other chickens. I keep them all together for warmth and comfort. They seem to get on well with each other. From the brooder they go into cages, like rabbit cages, and grow up a bit before going into a vacant pen. One morning, I went into the garage expecting to see the brooder empty but the red light was on. I looked in and saw two strange little chicks inside. I looked at them and wished very hard they weren’t crow babies.Luckily they were peets, or waterhen babies abandoned by their mother in a neighbour’s paddock and brought over by my son’s friend. I found them worms and painstakingly fed them and added a black feathered chicken a bit bigger than them for a ‘mother’.  A day later one was dead due to it being pecked by the other one. The remaining one, continued to take bits of raw meat from my fingers but increasingly his ducking and doving away from me made it hard to feed him. So he got weaned onto chicken starter and some fine seeds eating what the other chicken ate. He has very dense black down and extremely long legs and toes. He really is a very odd looking little bird who makes his own distinctive little call. He has happily been rehoused into a bigger pen with his chicken ‘brothers’ and a duckling. What’s a duckling doing in with them you might ask?

Remember the four ducklings at the start of this story? 3 of them successfully resettled with a mother duck and 6 older ducklings in the duck pen. This one little duck would not stay. He escaped back to the cages and hung around trying to find his pals. My son and I spent about ten minutes trying to round him up. He’d already spent one night out by himself and I wasn’t going to risk another. He kept going into a dense patch of shrubbery but eventually we funneled him into a gap where he was caught. He wiggled and struggled when I picked him up but now he’s very happy ranging around the pen with the chickens and the water hen peet. They are a strange mixture but then oddness works, doesn’t it?

Notes from ‘Rivendale’ #15

Posted: September 25, 2016 in Chickens, Ducks

The chicken keepers’ worst scenario last wednesday morning. Checked the chickens a little later than usual. Found a fox had gotten into the duck house which I thought was impregnable due to its roof. A scene of carnage inside. The little hen sitting on the duck eggs slaughtered together with all the chickens and the one rooster in this pen. Five dead in all. Not even eaten. I noticed a duck looking sore and picked her up. She had a some bad injuries under her wing.I thought she’d need putting down but put her in a pen to recover anyway. I was so angry. I wanted to tear the fox apart, poison it, anything. I considered photographing the bodies to show everyone why people want foxes dead, why they put out baits but thought better of it. Instead, I worked all day on a door for one pen and strengthening the defences of others. They’ll all have to be locked away each night now. Somehow the fox missed my 9 growing babies in the divided pen next to the ducks. They got shifted to the main pen where they have settled in well.

The ducks gave the fox a fight , I think as one of the drakes was skinned down the front and looking sore but ok. I heard nothing, not a thing.

The antidote is of course birth. On the following days we had two turkey babies hatch successfully and one tiny chick. All are still ok so far. I put all the duck eggs the duck and hen had been sitting on straight into the incubator. We shall see if they survive. Their candling looks good so far.

The injured duck is still alive 5 days later. I treated her wounds with salty water  and Iodine spray. She’s not happy being locked up in a cage under the brooder but its too hard to treat her if she goes back to the pen. In a few days, she should be right to return. The poor ducks hate being locked up in their pen but I have let them out and supervised them closely every second day. The chickens and turkeys have had a few goes out to free range as well but also closely supervised.  Things carry on but I miss the hens who used to scratch in gardens near the house and the beautiful red rooster who was so keen to be with them. I wished them a beautiful life next time around.

 

 

 

 

The duck house and yard is completed, or so I thought. Having ushered the ducks and drakes into their new home, I was rewarded for all my hard work and effort in the ‘spare’ time I could allow to build the complex with most of them flying back out of the enclosure! Only the really fat ones stayed because they are too heavy to take flight- which was about 4 of them. So, hoping to give them extra room while we went to Sydney for a few days, instead they went back into their old much muddier home. Even the enticement of only feeding them in the new enclosure did not change their minds. The only solution is to  put wire overhead in the enclosure which I did not think about when I made it so big. So I will have to fence in a section and enclose that. So, ducks: 1, Owner: Nil.

I sold two of them the other day to a woman who wanted a few friends for her male duck. We will have to eat some eventually, I mean, that’s why you keep these big meat birds called Muscovies isn’t it? I have been putting this off and a friend has volunteered to help- so it’s a fact for the future.

Today I had to rescue the Tuckling. You all know the Tuckling from previous writings, ie the duck raised by a turkey. She is now mature as was amply demonstrated today. I heard her quacking loudly. Racing over to the pen, I saw her head firmly planted in the mud while one of the drake brutes who’d got locked up with the turkeys et al  last night was mounting her. Needless to say, I sent him on his way. Poor little Tuckling, will she really give up the notion of being a turkey now? The turkeys just stood by and watched, not very understanding of them was it? However, nature will reign, even if the Muskovies are busy hunting less dominant males into submission for ‘The Act’ as well. The other ducks keep out of their way and somehow manage to return to the pen at night looking white and relaxed. I am nervous however. Last year at this time we ended up with a population explosion of ducklings, so I am busily hunting for eggs and keeping them locked up until midday in the hope that they won’t start building any hidden nest and sitting. I want the eggs, damn it! They are so big and tasty. They are equivalent to two chicken eggs in weight and size at least.

Sayonara, it’s raining and the ducks are having a free swim in the  huge puddle that collects in our driveway and I have other writing to do, so until next time.

Today was Day 6 of my holidays and Day 2 of work on the new duck house. I decided that an essential feature of this duck house was that it collected rainwater. I had in mind at first a pitched roof and researched various ‘pitched roofed sheds’ on Youtube. However, if you can make a pitched roof shed you are basically making a house. Then I set on the brilliant idea of making it with only one pitch. Jake, my son , Anthony’s friend suggested the orientation ie the pitch to be facing west as that’s where the weather usually comes from.

Yesterday, my husband helped me with setting in some posts and today I continued by completing the posts and attaching rails with will form the structure for the walls. I put a sloped piece of pine at the back and attached a piece of ‘guttering’ ready for the portable water tank. I got too many pine posts and not enough straight pine. Anyway, I realised in building this little shed that it’s a lot easier than building the complicated structures I already had built from recycled half water tanks. They were really pretty intricate! Anyway, hopefully with some bought sheet metal, I’ll get it finished quickly. There are too many ducks, so some I think will have to be eaten. Anyway, they won’t be pooping on the front lawn or verandah for too much longer. Soon they will have their own enclosure in the paddock. I got some free wood at the hardware store which will do nicely for the front of the shed and some cheap wire was rescued from the tip face at Moss Vale for some of the duck yard fence.

An update on the duckling raised by the Speckles. We now call it the ‘tuckling’ and he or she is amongst it with the best of them. He regularly squeezes between the fences of the turkey and chicken yards to sample whatever fare is on offer. He following his ‘mother ‘ around everywhere, completely unaware that he’s not a turkey.

The turkey who was the only one we raised this year has turned out to be a boy and was displaying over the last few days. He’ll probably have to be sold as a breeder. I’m not so sure how he and his father will continue to get along. The pair of them are at times terrorizing the chickens and I’ve had to rescue a few before they were killed by them.

So, it’s all go in the poultry world here. I’ll let you know how the duck house turned out.