Saturday, June 06, 2009

Duck Daddy and His Five Girls - Days 17 & 18

Yesterday was an uneventful day. Uneventful days are good. That means nobody looks sick, or does something strange which makes the amateur duck parents that we are feel like we are doing something wrong, or that a duck plague has arrived at our brooder door.

It was too cold (unseasonably so for June in Salem, MA), and the 5 girls only went out for a few minutes during a small break in the clouds in the afternoon. Funny thing - over the last few days, when I take them out, they want to stay right next to me most of the time. When they have the whole yard to roam, they stay together as a little troupe, and stay close to me. If I walk to a new location, they typically follow me - running as fast as their little ducky feet will take them. These little duckies are somewat high strung, full of energy, and make up for the fact that they can not fly (will not ever fly - Indian Runners don't fly - their name is self descriptive) by running like heck.

Now today was a bit warmer, and we were able to take the girls out twice for quite a bit of time. Today they seemed to have grown the most I've seen, and they now are really looking like ducks, and not ducklings. Yet, they still have mostly peach fuzz, and the feathers are only beginning to come out. Bev thinks this is the ugly duckling stage. Some years ago I kayaked out to an island in Salem harbor where all the seagulls and cormorants were breeding. The island was filled with nests, and baby birds about the size of our ducks now. They were almost as large as the parents, but they could not fly, and their feathers were not in. The babies all wanted our attention, but the seagull parents were dive bombing us, and the cormorant parents sat irresponsibly about 15 yards offshore from the island.

Look how much they look like regular big ducks right now!

We still need to keep the temperature warm in the brooder, and the nights have been cold. I want to turn the heat lamp off, but it is not warm enough to do so. I am worried they will start feather pulling, which they are prone to do under heat lamps which run all night. So we may make a change in the heating system in the next few days.

Today I told one of our next door neighbors about the ducks. He did not know yet. He had a real severe look on his face (but then he always does) and asked, "Do they eat bugs?"

"Oh yeah, they love eating bugs."

"You know they sh*t alot!"

Uhmmm...yeah they sure do."

That sh*t is good for your yard. You should spread it all over the place and your plants will grow like crazy." He has a big yrd for the city like we do.

Then I got a short dissertation on sh*t. Well, I am happy that my neighbor is excited about sh*t, and the fact that our ducks eat bugs.

As a parting thought: Here's what a greyhound looks like from duck perspective.

It would be nice to hear from you if you are following this blog, and especially if you have duck envy, and want your own ducks now. Leave a comment below.


evan said...

Hey Phil! I'm loving this blog, man. Missy and I were walking down our road the other day and saw a guy staring at 12 black ducks. I said to him, "Hey, Indian Runners!" He was like, "Wow! How'd you know?" His were at the stage yours are now.

Keep going, man. Pretty soon, I'll have Missy talked into a few ducks of our own. Miss you guys!

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Evan,

Converts to the duck world are our goal! They are awfully fun to have around.

Elijah is getting jealous too.

Raye said...

I just found the blog today. I have been campaigning for ducks, and I think my beloved is beginning to warm up to the idea, but he's still not exactly enthusiastic.

So, at this point, yes, I have duck envy.

This year I added quite a bit of garden bed area, so I have less open space in the yard for a duck pen. At the same time, the slugs have literally been eating my lunch (and dinner), in spite of picking and DE and so forth. This is one reason I want the ducks!

But the ducks need space, too. We don't have any infrastructure for them, so I will need a house and pen, complete with a serious top to keep the hawks and raccoons out.

I would love some ideas or encouragement.

Great blog - this has been such a treat!

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Raye,

They have been a bit of work for us, but we are new to this whole thing. I must say it is worth it, and a pile of fun. As far as ideas - I guess I need more info, and perhaps it might be worth joining the IRDA see - they might be more help than myself, but if you give me an idea of what you are working with I might have some helpful thoughts.

Good luck getting ducks!

Anonymous said...

I've had a few runners for a year or so now in my quarter acre garden. I'm no expert, but I'll make a few observations for you. They will eat broccoli to the ground (but not other brassicas so far), decimate pepper plants (including chili) eating the leaves and leaving the stalks. Spearmint is also devoured, if it is near water. They jump up to eat the leaves of my greengage tree, which is comical to watch. I now grow these in a secure duck-free area.

Other than that, they are the greatest addition a garden can have - they turn grass and cheap chicken food into gorgeous eggs, providing continuous cabaret as they do it.