Compassion in World Farming

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Look what a difference a couple of days makes!

It's now only two weeks since the ducklings arrived and look at them today:

Now some may say that all ducks go through an 'ugly duckling' phase as they begin to feather, but if anyone dares use that term near my babies I will punch them on the nose!

The weather here has been very windy with very sharp, unpredictable down pours so the ducklings haven't been out on the grass as much as I'd have liked, but they don't seem to mind. They are, like all baby animals, just full of the joys of life! They are constantly astounded by new things, like the shadow of a big bird flying overhead, or the cries of the baby starlings nesting near to us as their parents arrive with food, or a sudden gust of wind ruffling their new feathers. They are excited about everything they are learning - they know the sound of the gate latch opening means I'm on my way with something tasty & that raindrops mean it's time to take cover.

Cheese (above) has more fluff left than Chalk (below)

I've used a board to create a shelter at one end of their run, because I'm worried that without a mother duck to oil them they aren't waterproof enough to withstand a soaking. I even stayed out with them in a down pour to make sure that they would take cover from the heavy shower - now that's motherly love for you. I got soaked to the skin myself , but, of course, they were clever enough to take shelter! I give them a quick towel dry before they go back into their hutch in the evening just to make sure they aren't damp ducklings at bed time.

The improvised rain shelter

But as they are feathering so quickly now, I've ordered them a kiddies paddling pool so that when they are ready they can take their first dip! (Can anyone give me some guidance on this? )

New, itchy feathers require lots of preening!

The ducklings spent lots of time preening themselves today. Chalk reached so far forwards to preen her breast, which is full of feather growth, that she surprised herself (& me) by doing a complete heads over heels! It must have felt fun, because she promptly did it again, then perhaps gave herself a bit of a headache because it wasn't worth a third time!

Looking around the back garden I thought to myself how glad I was that I made my own compost last year. For those of you that aren't convinced of the benefits of composting look at what's growing in mine:

Slightly wind battered onions, garlic, broad beans & beetroot seeds in one raised bed.......... and potatoes in the other!

..and I'm a complete amateur. My neighbour, who is a very accomplished gardener, laughs & says that I garden like a child because I tend to use my bare hands & no instructions! I've only got one wooden compost bin that I filled with plant trimmings, grass cuttings, soiled rabbit & chicken bedding & kitchen peelings until approximately July to August time last year, bunged in as many earth worms as I could collect from the garden & by the time it was time to sow this year I had lovely stuff to grow with. I was so excited (yes, I'm easily pleased!) that this year I'm having a go with a Wormery & Bokashi Bucket. I'll let you know the results.

While the sun was out briefly today I took some pics of our pygmy goats, geese, ducks & hens to add to my blog next time. The poor things have taken rather a back seat to the ducklings so far!

1 comment:

  1. I reckon the paddling pool is a great idea, so long as you're around to make sure they can get out when they want. I walked my ducklings and goslings down to the stream for a swim and paddle from an early age, which they absolutely loved. One book I read says don't allow ducklings near water until they're 8 weeks old, but I've dismissed this. I think so long as they can get dry quickly and don't stay wet longer enough to catch a chill until their feathers develop they should be absolutely fine. Have fun!