Category Archives: Farm Animals

Duck Watch 2010 Part Two

Mr G has returned to live outside with his pal Smith. Both are five month old muscovy ducks, probably brothers. Smith is white and Mr G is white with a little grey on his back. Smith would be considered aggressive for the normally passive muscovy and Mr G lives up to the quiet reputation.

Just over two weeks ago Mr G was struck by a car while we were away on our honeymoon. We came home to find Mr G bloody in the barn. After ten days of in home care, including how to inject a duck (not for cooking) with antibiotics Mr G has returned to his more normal self outside.

Very subdued he limps around the pen and swims passively in the pond. I hope to hear his hiss again soon, but for now he continues to heal. We can even see the start of a few tail feathers that we never thought would grow. Recovery from this massive trauma has taken it’s toll on the little duck and he’s significantly smaller than the magnificent Smith who is splendid with his layering of white feathers.

Smith has been kind to Mr G since the separation. We feared Smith would beat up Mr G, but even animals can sense when one of their own is no longer a threat.

They sit together at the end of the dock and watch the swirling pond. I wonder if they daydream?

Duck Watch 2010

Employment obligations forced us home after nine days of honeymoon, but we were excited to be re-united with our four legged and feathered family. My human family cared for the barnyard in our absence and did a wonderful job. Thank you. Especially Dad.

There was a single injury to one of the ducks that took a few days for the story to unravel. We found Mr Grey Smith limping and bleeding in the barn. We weren’t sure how he got there, but my dad explained that the ducks were flying over the fence and could be found all over the farm. Did one of the cats chase the duck? I doubted it. Was it a fox or coyote? I don’t think he would have survived such an attack. Hmmm….

Mr G had big trauma to his tail area which was mutilated and full of maggots leaving him sour smelling and rotting. His left leg seemed sore, but there wasn’t an open fracture. We brought Mr G into the house and it took us over an hour to clean out most of the maggots, wash the area with antibacterial soap and then spray with a gentian violet solution that turned everything purple. We also needed to figure out how to inject him with antibiotics and we debated splinting his left leg. It was surprisingly easy to inject a duck, but this was one of the few times the internet was not helpful. When I googled “how to inject a duck” many websites came up about how to cook a tasty duck. I quickly stopped searching and used my medical training and animal experience. For anyone who needs to know: Under the wing, pull the skin and inject subcutaneously.

Friday, October 1, 2010 was the first night of treatment and his first night in the house at the farm. It was touch and go. He was lethargic and sat unmoving as we cleaned his wounds and injected the antibiotics. We sent out a little prayer and hoped that Mr G made it through the night.

On Friday night I discovered that Mr G had been hit by a car Wednesday, September 29, 2010 and survived on his own for two day before he was discovered and treatment was started. It certainly explained the severity of the injuries.

Poor Mr. G.

By Sunday Mr G seemed a little more lively and we decided to let him have a swim in the bathtub. He made a huge mess an had a blast. A digital video camera was a wedding present and we took a video, so have a look on youtube:

There’s also a video of Taz and Gizmo having a stellar Big Bear Fight.

By Wednesday we decided to let Mr G have a little fresh air and a wander around the backyard. He stretched his wings and started limping around enjoying the bugs in the grass and the softly falling rain. After a few minutes Mr G spread his wings and started flying. He didn’t make it over the fence, but he flew about twenty feet. This filled me with anxiety.

On Monday we built an aviary for Mr White Smith (just Smith now), so he couldn’t wander onto the road. He would fly over any fence without any trouble. He never flew more than six feet off the ground, but it was enough to put him into the dangers of the eighty kilometer per hour road. We confined Smith to the new 20×30 aviary much to his disgust. After two days he seemed unhappy, and as he watched Mr G wander he seemed agitated.

We began our discussions about the pros and cons of clipping their flight wings. We couldn’t let Mr G out for rehab because we were afraid he fly over the fence and we couldn’t catch him, but maybe something else would. Smith was a danger on the road, but if we clipped those precious six feathers they wouldn’t be able to fly from danger.

We’ve never had trouble with foxes or coyotes here at Beaver Creek Farm, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t happen. If we did clip their flight wings we’d have to lock them up at night. More confinement, but at least during the day they could wander the spacious pond area that was secured with a four foot small animal fence.

Pros and cons to both. In the end…

We clipped their flight feathers. It was an easy process. We clipped one side and only took six feathers careful to avoid the blood feathers. Muscovy and mallard ducks only need to be clipped once a year when they molt, so in a year we can re-think and decide if clipping was the right thing to do.

It was a relief. I could let Mr G out into the immediate backyard and not worry that Smith was going to fly the fence and attack him or that Mr G would fly out and wander off. I let Smith out of the aviary and he went immediately to sooth himself in the pond. Smith looked happy again.

Post-clipping I would say both ducks came out on top. Smith got to soak in his pond and Mr G could wander happily around and sit in the yard. We’re going to have to be more responsible in locking these two up at night to ensure their safety. I don’t think it will be a problem until the snow falls and the predators get desperate for food. February.

After an hour of the backyard I found Mr G making his way towards the back porch. I opened the three doors needed to get him back into his recovery area. It was funny and familiar to allow Mr G to walk into the house and settle into his crate happy as a … duck.

The Problem with Animals

One of the biggest problems with the animals is their short life spans. It seems like we’re saying good-bye to our beloved friends far sooner than we’d expect. I have talked to people who won’t have animals because they can’t bear to say good-bye. It’s tough.

I went out to feed the barnyard critters this afternoon and found one of the original bunnies had died right beside the feed dishes. There wasn’t anything shifty about it. He just died. Copper was a very pretty brindle mini rex with a friendly and delightful personality. He and our black bunny Softy did not get along once they hit puberty and we had to separate them last spring after a fight that left Softy a little off balance.

Often in my family humor is used to cope with grief, and right after Brent and I shared hugs and cleaned up the crime scene, he looked at me with serious eyes and asked when we should “interview” the farm animals to see if we had a suspect or any witnesses. I laughed.

He started on a line of interesting questioning.

He theorized that the one who was most capable of orchestrating a crime would be Poco, given his extensive history as an ex-Navy Seal (see Poco’s story). Brent hoped that Poco had fully retired, but was he used as a consultant? As we walked into the barn Brent noticed that Oreo, the stray barn cat, looked a little shifty.

Brent was certain that in Softy’s haze of post-traumatic stress he had placed the hit on Copper. I thought that sounded a little far fetched given Softy’s gentle nature, but when it comes to love we all make bad decisions.

Softy loved Peter, and Copper had won the girl. It was a bitter love triangle. Peter looked sad today as she stretched out on her side in her condo, smoking a cigarette. She said Copper was a good bunny who always treated her right, but when we brought up Softy you could see the shock and then love radiating through her eyes. Perhaps she helped in hopes of being reunited with her true love?

The pigs were stoic, but clearly shocked and saddened by the loss of one of the original farm animals. Willow babbled on about hearing something around two in the morning, because as you know, nothing good ever happens at two am, but she seemed more interested in gossiping than providing facts. Nelly said nothing. Not a word. We wonder?

When we tried to interview Oreo he ran away. It doesn’t look good, but we can’t find a motive. Inter-species love? Was he a hired thug? Will we ever know for certain?

Softy was very interesting to interview. He was cagey and very calm. Like ice. He didn’t say anything to indite himself, but he showed no signs of sadness or grief at Copper’s demise.

At the end of the day we have no answers. No reasons why Copper died. We know he’s gone and we’ll miss his hoppy hop. Find peace Copper and your friends at Beaver Creek Farm will miss you.