Tag Archives: ducks

Duck Invasion

They’re everywhere! Run for your lives! The ducks are escaping. Again.

We have gone to extreme measures to contain our ducks, but they simply refused to stay in one of the fenced area of the farm. I wouldn’t mind if they wandered around, but I’m terrified they’ll wander down the busy road. We’ve clipped wings, rewired fencing, clipped more wings and moved them into three different “secure” areas.

This morning Brent went outside and was startled by a cloud of feathers erupting from beneath the car. He jumped back as Mr Smith (Mr Trouble Smith) flew out from under the shade of the car and followed him into the barn.

With the cats meowing for their breakfast Brent unceremoniously dumped their food into the bowl on the ground and the duck pushed the cats out of the way to eat.

This was simply unacceptable.

Since the pigs seemed happy in their new digs I decided to put the duck in with our two remaining chickens. We lost our sweet chicken Nugget this week and with Misty the hen nesting on a batch of eggs, Elvis, our rooster seemed lonely wandering the pen. I decided to see if Mr Smith could escape since his recent flight wing clip.

As of dark time tonight Mr T Smith was keeping Elvis company while Mr P Smith was keeping his pig friends happy on the other side of the farm. Maybe two male ducks can’t live together. Like the odd couple.

Duck Bites

I have two male muscovy ducks who like to hiss. Male muscovy ducks hiss while the females offer a feminine quack. My males are lonely and would love to have some female companionship and to show their discontent they like to bite me. A duck bite is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It’s like a bad bruising pinch with a slight break in the skin.

I usually get bit about once a week and it’s usually confined to my legs, but Mr Smith got me mid-forearm on Sunday leaving a half moon scab surrounded by a dark blue bruise.

This week I was accidently head butted in the right thigh by my big goat Billy. I am becoming a purple farm animal mess.

I am also working five twelve hour days in a row and I think the animals sense my absence and are punishing me by head butting and biting. Autumn is kind enough to only push me around with her massive head. I consider that a hug.

The dogs show their disappointment at my absence in more pleasant ways, like cuddling and playing excessively. Gizmo is so cute this week that I’m giving him extra cookies to alleviate the guilt I feel at being the absent mother.

After work each day I flood a small area of the pig paddock, so they can roll around in the wet mud and cool off after their supper. Even the chicken will partake in a dust bath followed by a sip of pig flavoured water.

Combining farm life with a full time job is a challenge this week.

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:

http://www.youtube.com/user/SuperHobbyfarmer?feature=mhum#p/a/u/2/xfUAE9_rXpc

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.

Taz Verses Mr. Smith

I love my ducks. I was watching them tonight flapping their wings and running around all excited. I crouch down beside them and they immediately started grooming me for all sorts of bugs and dirt. I must have been very dirty because they were very vigorous with their bills.

It feels so good to be welcomed by my winged friends. They ran over fully extended and their excitement at my return was palpable. I felt so loved. Their gently feathery touches turned slightly painful and I retreated to find some stale bread to distract them from my painted toes and shorts in need of laundering.

I returned with the bread and the brawl began. Taz and Mr. Smith began fighting over the bread. He nibbled her back until she snarled and then she snapped at his duck bill. He turned and snapped back, but she quickly withdrew and pounced towards his tail feathers. This dance continued for several minutes, or at least until Mrs. Smith had the rare opportunity to eat all the bread. With nothing left to fight over Taz wandered back to the house and Mr. Smith herded his Mrs. back towards the ponds.

Much like children, they only want what the other wants.