Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Duck Daddy and His Five Girls - Duck Party!

We had a duck party last week. About 50 people from the church, and the neighborhood showed up. Our yard became a combination petting zoo (with ducks that really didn't want to be petted), and amusement park (with kids swimming in the pools, and sliding on a slip and slide). After the kids were done swimming, we put the ducks in the large kiddie pool as the party wound down. Here's the video:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Duck Daddy and His Five Girls 8th week: a Duck is Like a Pickle

I am convinced that the only reason the neighbors don't mind our quacking ducks is because a duck is like a pickle.

There are certain words, and their connected thoughts or actualities that bring a smile simply by mentioning them. The words sound light-hearted and funny, and almost bring a smile whether one says those words, or hears those words. The accompanying image of the meaning behind the words furthermore is humorous, because the object which the noun names is in itself a peculiar or clownish thing.

Pickle is one of those words. It feels funny in the mouth. It sounds funny to hear, and dances on the tongue like a nursery school rhyme. Say the words a few times and see if it does not make you smile.

Well, duck is another one of those words. Say the word a few times and see what it does to lighten your heart. Duck, duck, duck....

A duck is like a pickle. Don't you think?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Duck Daddy and His Five Girls 8th week: Urban Farming and Quacking Ducks

Well, we purchased Indian Runner Ducks because they lay lots of eggs - maybe 300 a year, which is like a 6 day work week. We also liked them, because they were funny and seemed to be the clowns of the duck world. Furthermore they are highly sociable, and this is nice for someone who wants to pick their ducks up, and cuddle with them - okay "cuddle" is not quite the term for a duck, but you know what I mean. Last of all, we heard that they were quieter than other breeds - right.

First thing in the morning when we let them out they run around the yard quacking up a storm of noise. Now, this is not a tight urban neighborhood with no yard space. We have a quarter of an acre, but we have one of the largest yards in the neighborhood. So abutted to our yard is 6 to 7 other homes which all look down from their second and third story windows into our yard. Salem is really the northern edge of Boston urban, and we live just outside the downtown area.

So, the other day Bev was inviting neighbors with kids to our duck party. (Yes, we are having a duck party tomorrow.) One of the neighbors, whom we do not know well, said to Bev, "Oh yeah, everybody's talking about the ducks."

"Uh-oh," thought Bev.

In the last couple weeks this has been one of a few interactions with the neighbors which has caused us to wonder if the ducks might be disturbing our little sub-urban neighborhood.

The people across the street mentioned that they could hear the ducks, and that their girls run to the windows to see the ducks when they hear them quacking. Mark loves the sound of ducks. (+1 ducks)

The next door neighbor on our street came over to see the ducks, because she heard them. We apologized for their noise, and she said that she enjoyed hearing them. "Oh no, we love the sound of the ducks. I wanted to get my own chickens, but my husband won't have it." (+2 ducks)

A second person who abuts our property and can look down on our yard stood on her tip-toes to speak over the fence and said, "do you have ducks?"

"Yes," we replied, "are they too loud?"

"Oh no, they are so cute." She replied. (+3 ducks)

A third abutting neighbor, whose back fence is directly next to the duck pen was outside painting his house. I came home in the afternoon, and the ducks always start quacking loudly when I arrive, because they know I will let them out to free range the yard for grubs, and worms, and bugs and the like. I will also throw them some lettuce in a little kiddie wading pool we have in the yard for them, and of course this gets them quacking wildly until the lettuce hits the water. Even then they make quacking noises while eating, and dunking their heads.

The Painting neighbor said, "the ducks are excited about something." I apologized and mentioned that they are noisy in the morning and late afternoon.

He said, "I don't mind it at all. I like the sound of the ducks. I'd get my own if I could." (+4 ducks)

Then a fourth neighbor who lives a block away had been walking past, and heard the ducks. She returned later with her grown sons, and they all came in to check out the ducks. They had seen bills, and heard quacking. They came over because they were excited about the idea of ducks in the neighborhood. (+5 ducks, 0 grumpy neighbors - so far.)

The moral of the story is this: Ducks are like pickles. Know what I mean?

If you don't understand you will have to check in tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Duck Daddy and His Five Girls - Days 47-52

So the ducks are a coming on 8 weeks old now. They are outside in their pen through the day, and free-ranging our yard when we are home to let them out. They really enjoy getting out in the yard, and honk up a storm of noise in the late afternoon when I get home. This photo is them standing at the door of the pen waiting to be released.

The old 6' by 10' foot family sized kiddie pool brooder has now been turned into a duckie pool, and they love swimming around in it. When they first jump in they go crazy, and start swimming around splashing, and diving, and one of the girls will do laps under water.

They are fully feathered except for the largest of the girls, who has a little tuft of fuzzy down sticking out on the back of her head. They run around the yard flapping their wings like they are trying to fly. Okay, now I was told that Runners don't fly - well, one of them was getting out of the extra large kiddie pool former brooder, and took a leap off the edge and flapped a good 3-4 feet through the air landing softly and then took off on a run. This looked suspiciously like pre-flight practice to me.

They are sleeping outdoor in their temporary night home - a doghouse with a hinged lid, and a screened door, and a latch to lock them in.

I sat outside late last night near their night hut, which is currently near our back door, and a skunk came walking around the corner toward us (me and the sleeping girls in their duck night hut). I gently said, "hey their little buddy." What does one say to the King of the Urban Jungle - the skunk? Fortunately skunks are not typically up for a fight for no reason. He took a funny little hop when I spoke to him, and then ran off across the yard. I was surprised how fast he ran. Skunks are not typically fast runners. Skunks waddle rather confidently, because they have such power they never need to run. Okay, sometimes they do get bested - Holly our greyhound killed a skunk once - dang, that was a mess! And Bev ended getting rabies shots for that event.

Well, she might not like me telling that story, so I will sign off on the duck update before I get in deep ducky doo-doo.

Peace and Duck Dreams to You.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Duck Daddy and His Five Girls - Day 46

"Like a duck to water." This saying makes more sense to us than it ever did. Ducks do love their water. In fact ducks need their water.

They forage through the mud in search of yummy bugs, and end up with a mouthful of mud. After foraging for awhile one of them decides it is time to clean their mouth out with water, and they all run to the pool to drink like madmen.

Now keeping their water clean is important, but impossible. Right now we have two small kiddie pools we use to let them swim and simply get wet. One in their pen, and one out in the yard.

This is what the one in their pen looks like after having been emptied and refilled with clean water just a few hours earlier. So much for being green. Ducks are as brown and muddy as it gets, and they seriously overuse water. Now we do have rain water barrels, but those barrels will not keep up with the ducks need for water.

Well, its late, and I think I need to move along, because even though I have a couple more things to do I would rather head for bed like a duck to the water.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Duck Daddy and His Five Girls - Days 41-45

The Girls are outside all day now. The pen is complete, but the house is not. Unfortunately, the week they needed to get moved out I was away, and so their pen could not be finished. Now it's close to done, but good enough for then to be outdoor all day long.

Their little house for night sleeping is not yet complete though, and that will hopefully be done tomorrow. The pen has a net over the top to keep predatory birds (like the hawk which has been seen in our trees) from killing the girls.

So this is what the scene at the Wymsn house looks like. The ducks are still in the 10' by 4' inflatable pool brooder in our back room at night. The weather had still be insanely wet and cold up until yesterday, and between the bad weather, and my being away they were not outdoors as much as they needed to be. Yet now each morning they go out into the pen. If we are at home, they free range around the yard finding bugs, and grubs, and worms, and eating grass.

We have two small kiddie pools outside. One in their pen, and another on the lawn. The ducks are spending more time in the water, and less time eating. They are not quite the eating machines they were a couple weeks ago.

They also appear to be acting a little more independently, but in a moments' notice they all get excited and start running after us, or if we are out of site they start quacking for us. Fortunately all our neighbors are pleasantly intrigued by the girls, and are glad that there are ducks in the neighborhood. This definitely helps the urban farming project.