Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Be Kind to Your Mother, Web-Footed Friends!

This happened on April 29, right after the storm, but I didn't have a chance to post it until now.  The chicks were 6 weeks old on April 27 and ready to go outside in the chicken tractor.  But, the chicken tractor was serving as a Duck Mobile in the barnyard, so we needed a new plan for the ducks.  Enter my (first) Gypsy chicken coop which Herb built a couple years ago on a wagon so that it could be moved around (thus the Gypsy).  Now THAT'S free-ranging!  Since  the three remaining chickens who used to use it have been integrated into the new coop, the Gypsy coop was available for immediate occupancy.

Herb helped me clean up the feed area in the barn and roll the Gypsy coop in.  He also built a nice large ramp for the ducks to get up and down into it since they seem too clutzy to handle the narrow ramp the chickens used.  He thought we could get the ducks in the evening after they settled down and move them in, so he went in to eat lunch.
I, however, was impatient to get the ducks settled into their new condo, so I started carrying them one by one and putting them in.  Unfortunately, I learned several things about ducks.  1)  They may look laid-back sitting around during the day, but they are not as tranquil as they look!  And, most importantly, 2) ducks are related to hawks and eagles!  Well, at least they have claws on the ends of their cute little webbed feet that resemble talons, and when they hook into you, you have to rip them out like giant cat's claws!  Fortunately, Kara came along to ask me a question, and I pressed her into service.  I also put on some long leather gloves!  While I carried each duck with two hands, Kara opened and closed the coop door so I didn't have to try to juggle ducks in one arm.
Eventually all 13 ducks were safely settled, and I was the only one who was the worse for the wear!
Here's the new Duck Mobile with its ramp propped up on the right.  The ramp fits neatly under the large green door for the ducks to get up and down into their home.
It makes the feed area a little crowded, but it also forced us to organize to make it work.
After several hours, I couldn't wait to see how the ducks would handle the ramp, so I opened the door.  One brave Jemima Puddle-duck hopped up in the doorway, followed by her Sir Francis Drake, and while he hung out, she examined the situation.
That is a l-o-o-o-o-ng way down!
Jemima and Francis discussed what to do while Gypsy (one of the original inhabitants of the Gypsy coop) came by to see what had happened to the neighborhood.
Sterling, the barn cat, investigated, too.  The ducks hid from him, but he was too lazy to climb up and bother them.  Finally, I gave up waiting to take a picture of the ducks waddling down the ramp, and I went inside.
Just like children, once I was out of camera-range, they performed!  When we went back to feed them that night, they were all down enjoying the barnyard.
As you can see, their wings are nearly feathered out, so it shouldn't be long until they can fly up and roost on the stall walls or round pen rails.
The ducks are very curious about their new territory, checking out the wheelbarrow and Rascal.  They really stick together, and it's quite cute to see them "consult" each other about things!

We do hope they will consult with the chickens and figure out how this up-and-down-the-ramp thing works because for now they put themselves to bed over in the corner where the chicken tractor/duck mobile used to be.  And every night we have to carry them one by one, and put them to bed.  But now I wear long leather gloves or a jacket to protect my arms from claws, and they seem to be used to the routine--although they're starting to get creative about running away from us at bedtime!  What did I say?  Just like children!!


  1. I love it! . . duckmobile and Sir Francis Drake! Great names! Maybe if you promised them a bedtime story after they are settled for the night. . .perhaps Make Way for the Ducklings??

  2. Okay, Barbara, I'm officially looking for a copy of it at my favorite used bookstore. I have a lawn chair we can carry out to the barnyard, and YOU can read it to them when you come! Now that will be a photo op!

    Since I've been sick, Herb can't catch them by himself, so they have spent several nights on the ground, trying out their luck. So far (forgive me, I can't resist!) they've been lucky ducks! :D


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