Thursday, March 5, 2009

Living and Dying on the Farm

Here's what's living. Our latest bunny babies are doing well. They're all nice and fat and healthy, and I think we're past any threat of cold weather. I'm not going to get too comfortable, though, until they're walking around and eating solid food.

As for the sad news, we've lost one of our Muscovy drakes. I have to assume he fell prey to a coyote. He simply disappeared - I've walked the area all around the house, pond and barns, and there's no trace of him. It's highly unusual for the ducks to separate - they all move as a single unit - so there's virtually no chance that he just wandered off. They tend to stay very close to the house, anyway. I'm really sad about losing him, and so is Mr. Farm. We're rather attached to the ducks. This also puts us in a rather awkward position. We only had four ducks to begin with (hardly a predator "buffer") and two of them don't even technically belong to us. We had two breeding pairs, one of which was ours and one pair we were keeping for some friends. Those friends are moving and are just about ready to retrieve their pair of ducks. We now have one breeding pair and one single female with a clutch of eggs. I'm not sure how this will all shake out in the end.

The really disappointing thing is that we can no longer allow our ducks pond access, at least not without major modifications. We know that coyotes are casing the pond area, and unlike chickens, ducks DO NOT like to go into a little house at night (I had to put them in last night under extreme diress). It's quite saddening to have a pond and to have ducks and not be able to bring the two together, as they ought to be. I expect some greater level of confinement and a kiddie pool will be in their future.


  1. We lost half our ducks one night (a few years ago). I don't tell everyone this story, or not at the dinner table, but I was so angry I set a radio going out the back window, set between stations to mask any sounds I might make, then set up a lamp aimed at the barn, left one corpse just inside the door with the latch closed, put a ladder to the side of the house, and climbed up with a sleeping bag and a .22 rifle.

    The next morning there were five dead raccoons by the door. Each one had tried, in its last moments, to pull the duck through the crack in the barn door.

    I rebuilt the barn. So far, seven years, no more casualties.

    The current batch of ducks, unlike preceding ones, have no problem going in with the chickens and being shut in. Maybe 'cuz they were all raised together?

  2. Hmmm...maybe. That's a good thought. I wouldn't be so upset about the duck (I'm prepared for casualties) were it not for the facts that a) we only had four to start with, and b) these particular ducks (Muscovy) are really hard to find, at least in our neck of the woods. I can't just order another batch from McMurray or wherever. We had to get these from an individual. It hadn't occurred to me that it might have been the work of a raccoon. I know raccoons are trouble, but these ducks are huge, closer to goose-sized. I thought surely they'd be too big for a raccoon to carry off.