Compassion in World Farming

Saturday, 23 May 2009

First a dabble .... then a paddle!

The ducklings may be imprinting me as some kind of mother figure as baby birds do, but one thing's for sure they are imprinting on my heart more & more with each day I spend with them. With better weather I have been able to let them out onto the grass more & I can quite happily spend hours just watching their engaging ways & their funny little characters emerge. They are very attached to one another, a definite pair. They are too big to be picked up together in one armful now & although they do not mind being handled by me they cheep loudly to one another until they are reunited.

I am pleased to say that they are thriving - bright eyed, healthy & full of an infectious zest for life. Food wise they have a more varied diet now - today grated carrot & snails for breakfast today with a spent potato plant for supper on top of their grower pellets & grass. No wonder they are growing right in front of my very eyes!

As it has been warmer & both are fairly well feathered on their undersides, I let them have a shallow plastic bowl of water to play in. At first they just enjoyed a jolly good dabble:

Then a paddle:

Chalk enjoys a paddle!

Then a lot of preening took place. They splashed water across their backs, pulled out loose bits of their baby fluff & had a jolly good shake of those new feathers. I told them how beautiful they were & they happily strutted about in their nice clean plumage, then posed for their close up shots:

'Chalk' above, 'Cheese' below

And talking of well groomed ducks, here's a picture of 'Donald' the Khaki Campbell drake ( I mentioned earlier that we got on the same day as the ducklings) with one his girls:

Now isn't he a handsome fellow? The two ducks, Jemima & Puddles, are a lot happier now he has arrived. We did have 4 Khaki Campbell ducks & a crazy Crested drake called Elvis (who had a wonderful quiff & for some reason spent most of his days dancing around in mad circles), but very sadly we lost 2 of the ducks & Elvis to a fox attack. It was the one night that somehow between us we forgot to shut them away, along with the chickens & geese, & I don't think we will ever forgive ourselves. I think it was only down to the fact that the birds share their field with 2 pygmy goats that we didn't lose all 5 ducks, possibly the geese & probably some of the chickens, because although they had roosted in their house the pop hole hadn't been closed. I'm sure the goats must have disturbed the fox & driven it away because I have heard that they usually massacre everything. I have a very loud alarm set on my mobile phone now, so that we will never forget again!! It was very upsetting.

Anyway to end on a happier note it's forecast to be nice weather again tomorrow, so the ducklings can have another lovely time paddling about. Also, we are planning to release our pullets into the rest of the flock of hens, so wish us luck with that because we aren't sure how it's going to go. The 8 pullets have been living in the chicken house with the other chucks, but inside a cage while we've been growing them on, so that the older birds can see them but not get at them, so we are hoping they will be fairly well received.

The pullets waiting to join the rest of the flock

I'll let you know.......

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