April 23, 2005

Our Ducks get a new home

Another entry from the Maple Falls Institute for the Study of Advanced Cuteness.

Ducks grow very fast and they outgrew the bathtub about a week ago. We moved them into a large (5' * 2') carton in our garage storage room until such time as I got the duck house built. They moved in yesterday afternoon. Here are some photos:

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This is their new house. I have finished the inside but still need to put roofing (need to get some flashing) and some boards on the corners — these keep out rainwater and help the structure to last for a while. The interior floor has two coats of heavy glossy enamel to aid in cleaning. Jen calls it the Duck-Mahal and thinks that the Lapus Lazuli tiled Jacuzzi and the Swarovski chandeliers are a bit of overkill. I keep telling her that the Ducks specifically asked for these features.

Their home is in our Garden — the ducks job is bug patrol. We are fencing the garden in May and they will be allowed free roam during the day. We will use portable fencing to protect low-lying crops such as lettuce but everything else if fair game. There will also be an electric fence on the outside of the wire fence to keep predators out.

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Here I am with one of our Indian Runner Ducks — he is the smallest one and also the one with the most personality. A few weeks ago, I was rounding them up to take them outside to enjoy some sun and this little character was impossible to catch — he was bouncing off the walls of the brooder so he got the name of Ping-Pong. We believe he is a Drake (male) as his voice is changing. He is fearless.

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The went for a swim today. The temperatures have been steadily getting higher and higher — today it got to 74 degrees F. Ducks have this great little smile to their beaks — as though they were enjoying a subtle joke.

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Anyone who has watched animals grow up (humans included) knows that some parts of the body will spurt ahead and others will play catch-up.
These wings are playing a serious game of catch-up. This is a White Pekin (we have them and Indian Runners). The White Pekins are dinner, the Runners are for cute.

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The ducklings are not producing the oils that adult ducks use to waterproof themselves. This is why the pool wasn't filled all the way (they can stand up if they want) and the lack of oil limited the time they felt comfortable in the water. Even though it was in the 70's, after 45 minutes, they had enough. Jen thought that a ramp would be a good idea. It was and Ping-Pong was the first to give it a try.

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Oooo — that is a long first step.

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Made it!

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All of the ducks except for one made it out over the ramp — this was a success and I'll build a permanent one in the next few days. They spent about 15 minutes grooming themselves, fluffing up their feathers and sunning themselves.

They went back into their new house and took a mid-afternoon siesta. They were rumbling around in their outside pen a few hours later.

At night, we herd them into the house and close and lock the trap door so they are safe from night-time predators.

Posted by DaveH at April 23, 2005 08:46 PM
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