Poultry in Motion

You know, in many ways my life is very unexciting. I mean, I’m not off traveling the world or climbing mountains or parachuting out of planes. But in other ways, there’s never a dull moment!

duck
Cuddles looked sort of like this. (Photo from Zoonoticecology)

I declared to myself that except for getting two geese, I was done adding to my flock. But then I shared my video at FB of the ducks all swimming in their pool and EJ’s sister commented that she and her husband have a female duck that they’d like to get rid of. She was injured last year and walks with a limp. Her name is Esther. I asked EJ if he’d like the duck (I knew he’d say yes but I thought it was polite to ask first) and then I told my sister-in-law that we’d take Esther. Later EJ and I stood outside the pen admiring our new ducks. Cuddles came up to us and I told him, “Cuddles, we are getting you one more female!” As if he knew exactly what we were saying, he got this incredibly joyful “Wow!” look on his face–like a child opening Christmas presents–and he quacked happily. We laughed. EJ said he never would have believed Cuddles’ reaction if he hadn’t seen it himself. 

JJ told me that we need more chickens because one of his friends told him that roosters won’t be happy unless they have about six hens each. We have three roosters. That would be 18 hens! I’m not sure we are going to get additional hens although I also don’t want to be traumatized by rooster battles. I came across a meme a while back that said something like “first you get four chickens, and then ten, and the next thing you know, you have 50.” That’s pretty much true about chickens AND ducks….and cats. This is how we end up with so many animals.

This morning I opened the garage door to let the chickens and ducks out to enjoy the beautiful day. Later I went to check on everyone and found most of the hens on the roof of their coop, one hen was on the coop roof on the ducks’ side of the pen, and one chicken was on top of the dog cage itself.  The coop is in the dog cage in the garage and keeps the poultry in “their” section separate from the rest of the garage. I have fencing stretched across the top of the coop roof dividing the chickens and the ducks, but because I have to be able to shut the garage door at night, it doesn’t go all the way across the pen and the chickens have figured out how to get to the other side. I used my “rooster whacker” cane to nudge everyone to their proper side. Later I went out to the garage and found three hens on the coop roof on the ducks’ side and one sitting on a cabinet on the other side of the dog cage in the main part of the garage. So I found a piece of fencing and tried to construct a dividing fence that they couldn’t get over. Maybe. Hopefully. 

Cuddles and Peeper love to free-range and they were waiting at the gate for me to let them out. I hate to keep them in their pen all day but I’m apprehensive about letting the new ducks out because I’m not sure they recognize their new pen as “home” yet. However, they were following Cuddles and Peeper around and I know the older ducks recognize “home” so I let them all outside. After they happily waddled off, I grabbed some laundry to hang on the clothesline. The morning was autumn cool and beautiful and it really was pleasant listening to all the happy coos and clucks and quiet quacks of the chickens and ducks.

I let the ducks remain outside for several hours, but the new ducks often sit outside the pen and I don’t know if they know how to get back into their pen. So I decided to herd them back into their pen to give them a chance to learn their way into the pen and to associate their pen with “home.”

Only the new ducks are quite nervous and very wily. I would get them headed between the truck and the pen on the way to the doorway of the pen, but then they ducked under the truck and snuck out the other side and around to their beginning point. I tried to use my “rooster whacker” cane as a shepherd’s crook to guide them around the corner, but they would go the opposite way. Finally I used tires, an old wheelbarrow, and old fencing to make barriers to guide them into the pen, but they simply ducked under the truck rather than continue into the pen. It took me about an hour, but I finally got all the ducks in the pen and I closed the gate. Whew! I think I’ll keep them contained in the pen until I’m sure they know that this is their home. I hate to prevent Cuddles and Peeper from free-ranging, but…I’m considering trying to steer the young ducks into the outside chicken pen so that they are contained and so Cuddles and Peeper can go free. But not today. I’ve had enough trouble for one day trying to get various birds where they are supposed to be!

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