You know how, when children leave home, some parents maintain their rooms exactly as they left them, as a sort of shrine? Or maybe they turn their rooms into something else after a suitable period of time? Well, we waited almost 24 hours to turn Katie's room into a home gym and hobby room for Ev and I ... and nearly four whole days to start raising poultry in it.
That's right, it's Springtime in Nowhere, IL and you know what that means. It's time for the annual McMurray Hatchery delivery!
The attrition rate of last years' ducks has been disheartening, especially since the pond thawed. Heading into winter we still had six Rouens and one Cayuga out of the original flock, but the Cayuga got snatched almost as soon as they returned to the pond. The two drakes disappeared a few weeks ago and today only three hens showed up at the back door for their kibble. Luckily, new ducklings were already on their way, and they arrived today.
We've decided that, although the ducks love the pond, it's not condusive to their health and longevity, so Richard can get his own damn ducks. We're going to erect a big sturdy fence around ours and put a drain in the wading pool so we can change the water more easily. Hopefully the predators have had their last free duck dinner around here.
Last year we knew what kind of ducks we wanted, but this time we opted to let the hatchery surprise us, so we ordered the Ducks Deluxe package. All you know when you place your order is that you'll get fifteen ducklings from three different breeds. They always seem to throw in an extra just in case, so sixteen ducklings arrived this morning, all alive and healthy. We got an interesting assortment! Five Blue Swedish, who are supposed to be gentle and tame, good layers and good mothers, five Chocolate Runners, who are supposed to be ridiculous looking AND prolific little egg producers (I named the runt "Hershey") and six Pekins (the AFLAC ducks) ... four of whom are crested. The crested ones look like they're wearing little feather yarmulkes.
If you're being observant, you'll notice that the bird falling asleep on its feet in the foreground does not have webbed feet. That's because we bought two baby turkeys on a whim while we were at Rural King picking up duck kibble. One of them (a Spanish Black) is mean as hell and had to be put into solitary confinement almost immediately. The sleepy one is a Bronze Breasted who turned out to be an escape artist. After finding it running around the bedroom twice, I hid and watched it squeeeeeeeze itself through the narrow bars of the cage ... and then moved it in with the other one in a separate container.
The "wading pool as brooder" method we used last year seemed less than secure with three dogs in the house (and I didn't want to scrub the thing and drag it back in the house anyway), so the ducklings have taken over Pickle's wire crate. And no, we do not drink Bud Light. We are merely using the carboard box to line the bottom of the crate. The temporary loss of her home means that Pickle has to bunk with Cooper in the big crate when we're gone. I'm not sure which of them is more appalled.
The dogs have all met the poultry and Pickle likes the turkeys the best because they peck her nose and she thinks that's playing. Cooper drools at them and Sage, as usual, couldn't care less.
More pictures to come, as ducklings grow rapidly!