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Category: Ducks

No More Ducks

by Scott Smith

I took care of our last two ducks today. It was brutal. It was the right thing for the farm. It was the farmer thing to do. If we’ve learned one thing in the last five years it is to be farmers. When we aren’t bad things happen.

Big, Bad Duck is Dead

by Scott Smith

One of the dogs — well, Pollack — killed the big, bad male duck today. We’re now down to two females and two males. Hopefully, this ends the duck aggression, which is probably how the duck died.

When this male thought you were too close, he’d charge you. Too close was sometimes five feet and sometimes 100 yards.

Our best guess is the big, bad duck decided to attack one of the females, which drives Pollack nuts (it really is a rape that takes place). Pollack would bark from the other side of the fence. The male probably decided Pollack was too close and charged her, and then Pollack pulled him through the fence. And, that’d be it.

Animal count: 12 chicks, 8 hens, 1 rooster, 4 ducks, 4 cats and3 dogs.

Chicago Chicken Lady Wins First Round

by Scott Smith

"Go ahead and enact laws or set up best practices for keeping chickens. But don’t ban them outright," the Chicken Lady says.

"Chickens are good for the life of the city. My chickens get people talking to each other, talking to me. Children in the area are interested in the chickens. Elderly resident remember growing up with chickens when they were young. Chickens really are a good community builder."

What if Chickens do get outlawed?

"I guess I’ll have to get ducks," the Chicken Lady said.


I hope she gets Runner Ducks too.


The Blue and the Gray

by Scott Smith

So, the ducks are separated while the injured female recuperates. The group of four have new bedding and plenty of water, but they’re sequestered — and none to happy about it.

Meanwhile, our pair of beat-up ducks roams freely when not sleeping with the chickens. The pair are beat-up because the lead duck of the foursome attacks them when the mood is right. Not only are ducks messy, they are violent. It’s like a Friday the 13th movie every day.

Robinson and I have been considering getting rid of the pair or ending the chief of the four ducks’ life.

The problem is getting involved with nature too much. You care for the animals, nurse them back to health when necessary, but it seems to be a bad idea to get involved in their society.

I think our lack of action has proved to be the best course. The pair of ducks now think they’re top dogs. The male bullies the chickens and has come after the dogs. I guess it thinks he must protect his woman. He has never displayed these actions prior to the foursome interment.

Our other option is to pen up the birds, denying them their natural instincts. You either cage them or let them sort things out. I will err on the side of letting them sort it out.

So, very soon, we will witness the duck equivalent of Gettysburg.

Another Girl Duck Gone Ducks are tough

by Scott Smith

What is it with only the girl ducks dying? A girl was presumably hit by a car today. We cleaned up her seemingly minor wounds and headed off to get iodine and clean straw for the duck house. We made plans to clean her wounds at least once a day to fight the fly issue but when we got back the usual foursome had become a threesome. We don’t know where she went. We walked up and down the road checking in neighbors’ yards and in the ditch that runs along the empty field. She must have been hurt worse than we thought and curled up somewhere to die.

It’s too bad that no one obeys the speed limit in front of our house.

So, the girl duck showed back up after all. She seems even more beat up but that could just be her wounds settling in. She has a pronounced limp now. We iodined her up and locked the birds up early. I think they’ll just have to stay in their house for a couple of days while we see how she does.

It’s still too bad that no one obeys the speed limit in front of our house.

Arms Race in My Barnyard

by Scott Smith

Our little flock of ducks has been a real education for all of us. The spring has provided a lot of opportunities for conversations about what ‘no’ means (‘no’ means ‘no’). This morning I was surprised by a rather extended glimpse of the male duck anatomy. All I can say is, I had NO idea. I did a quick search and I found this fascinating article by Maggie Fox of Reuters. Apparently even ‘Mother Nature’ believes that females should be able to control their reproductive lives…

Brennan noted that in many species, females choose a mate after he puts on an elaborate courtship display, and breeding pairs are often monogamous.

An exception is ducks — especially mallards. Although mallards pair off to mate, females are often raped by stray males.

Yet studies show that these rapes do not pay off for the males. “Even in a species where 40 percent of the copulations are forced copulations, the ducklings still are mostly sired by the mates,” Brennan said.

There’s an excellent reason for this, or at least a strong theory…

What they found surprised them — corkscrew-shaped oviducts, with plenty of potential dead-ends.

“Interestingly, the male phallus is also a spiral, but it twists in the opposite, counterclockwise, direction,” said Yale ornithologist Richard Prum in a statement.

“So, the twists in the oviduct appear designed to exclude the opposing twists of the male phallus. It’s an exquisite anti-lock-and-key system.”

Brennan believes females evolved convoluted oviducts to foil the male rapists.

Only if the female is relaxed and cooperative can the male’s sperm get anywhere near the unfertilized eggs, the researchers suggest.


tap, tap, tap…

by Scott Smith

I’ll admit I was tempted to go with an AFLAC or a Landshark theme for this post. The ducks were tap, tap, tapping at the door while Madeleine and I were sitting at my computer. They either were attacking their reflections or are simply offended by the door that lets the dogs in and out of their world.

Suffering Chickens

by Scott Smith

This morning I killed another chicken. I’ve lost count. Maybe 60 chickens. These hurt, though. Pollack escaped from the pasture, killing four chickens and leaving four others so wounded I had to finish them off.

Poor Doris. Poor Trick Chicken.

It was all my fault. I should have brought the dogs in before leaving for the store. I should have pounded a t-post into the ground next to the gate. Pollack is strong and skinny. Should of… should of…

Laura had called me while I was out and said it was horrible. She was right. Feathers everywhere. Four dead birds in the coop. The ducks escaped damage; I’m guessing the chief male duck confronted Pollack. He has seen one duck die and another nearly strangled to death. He confronts the dogs, chases Jack around the cars and generally let’s it be known no ducks will be hurt on his watch.

I only wish I had his sense of responsibility.

I failed those eight birds.

Chapter 2, in which Mr. ‘Possum visits the Duck House *extremely graphic*

by Scott Smith

That means you probably shouldn’t look, Coleman.
Read the rest of this entry »

Bigger Problems… or, Scott does battle with a ‘possum

by Scott Smith

The dogs have been barking off and on all afternoon, and being paranoid about the neighbor’s dog we kept poking our heads out to see if he was here. Well, I finally decided it was time to stop being stressed about the dog and go try to close up the birds a little early…

This is who I found….

And this is what he was doing…

Of course, Scott had gone to the store, so I just got my pictures taken. When Scott got back he got Mr. ‘Possum out of the hen house…

It was a battle of epic proportions.