Let’s Go Outside: Happy ducks

28 Jul

P1260188It has been a roller coaster few weeks here and the last twenty four hours have been very exciting.  Losing birds in such a vicious fashion through a fox attack is extremely distressing, yet, also, part of the life we have to accept. We can keep the chickens behind electric fence and lock the ducks up at night, but nothing is one hundred percent secure. Not if you want your flock to have a happy free-range life. (I gave someone some eggs the other day. He has chickens but most were broody. He commented that our eggs tasted amazing – and put it down to the fact they’re allowed to free-range behind the electric fence and are not kept in a run.)

When Vanessa and Jemima Duck were caught by foxes a few weeks ago, there were many tears. From me. We always said, however, that if something happened to them, the next lot we get would be treated in a different way. They would have a house for a start – the previous girls have made do with the pond island in all weathers – and we’ll have a run attached to the house so when it was summer and they got up extremely early, they’d have access to a little pool and food but be secure in the run. It would also help us with eggs. Keeping them in the house until 8-9am will ensure they lay their eggs where we can collect them.

Neville, our drake, has been on his own for about two weeks. We ordered the house but couldn’t collect ducks until that arrived. Once it came this Friday we were free to collect ducks on Saturday. But where to get the ducks from? Thankfully twitter came to our aid. JPS Ducks in Romford was recommended and we gave them a call. We couldn’t get ducklings as our drake wouldn’t accept them. We needed mature females. And that’s what JPS Ducks had (and lots more besides!)

There were four together in one pen. One drake and one black female and two lilac females. We couldn’t have another drake, shame as he was lovely, but as the three females had been used to each other we decided to get all three of them. In the car they went and a while later we popped them in their new home.

It was a novelty in the evening to lock them up, but it felt right. Like I had one less thing to worry about at night as I fell asleep. (Previously we’ve rushed outside at night with a torch when the ducks started quacking!)

This morning I released them from the house and the first thing they wanted to do was go into the pond. I don’t think they’ve been in a pond before, or at least not in the last six months. (I took a vine video clip of them.) Straight in they went, found Neville and started to follow him about. He appeared a little overwhelmed at first. We were told he might try and ‘tread’ them straight away but we didn’t see any hanky panky in the first half hour.

Give him time though, three females in his pond, just like that. He’s probably is a bit scared.


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