Very Eggciting Plans! And A Bit of A Lecture . . .

Very Eggciting Plans! And A Bit of A Lecture . . .
My inner nine-year-old reigns supreme this week.

Not only will we be adopting one new duck, we expect to be bringing home two!!!!

My inner adult has declared – that’s that! The Inn is full!

Some people call it duck math. Similar to chicken math, it begins with a plan to have a few ducks, but then the definition of “a few” expands.

I had set my limit several years ago, feeling that I would slowly add to the flock as I became more comfortable managing them. As it turns out, I began with many more than I had planned on, then added one, two, or three more. Hey, they’re small!

I had also thought I would add ducklings, to continue to be able to raise human-socialized ducks. Then I learned of the magnitude of the problem of duck dumping. Some folks, the ones who do it, think of it as releasing the ducks. But in the case of domestic ducks, raised by humans, it’s abandonment. I won’t detail what can go wrong for the ducks in this post, except to say – plenty.

If you have ever done this, I don’t hate you. A family member, when I was a child, did it. And I don’t hate him. But he made a very, very big mistake, that probably cost my pets their lives. Maybe not – I will never know.

We can get overwhelmed, we can sign up for a project that is nothing like we anticipated, lose the means of support, we can take some vicious heat from family members. It is better to ask for help than to abandon domestic or human-imprinted animals. There are rescue organizations, clubs, even perhaps neighbors who can take over the care of animals. Some veterinarians occasionally arrange for rehoming. Consider when the shoe is on the other foot - perhaps there is a neighbor who loves their animals but is struggling with financial or health issues, who simply needs a little help, and you can be that help.

And some folks who had planned to slowly add to their flock anyway will see the light and rather than buy ducklings, will take in the ducks that they can, and see that they are fed and sheltered and protected as well as possible.

When bringing in new flock members, they need to be checked by a vet for any health issues, especially anything that might infect the rest of the flock. Fecal and blood tests can be run. It costs a little bit, but protects the flock.

Introduck-tions are another matter. These take time, so the new ducks need to have a safe, comfortable space with fresh water and food that is separate from the rest of the flock. Simply setting up a temporary fence to create that area within the existing flock space can work. The advantage to that is that the ducks get to see, hear and smell each other without touching each other. And that helps them all adjust.

After some time – could be a few hours or days – they can be together without the divider fence but with direct supervision. If there is more than a little poking and chasing and loud quacking, the new duck goes back into the temporary quarters, and we try again later.

In my experience, introducing females to females has gone the quickest and easiest. But drake introductions can work out easily, too. It’s all up to the ducks. What we humans can do is provide support for a smooth transition. This includes taking it slowly, and giving everyone treats at the same time, when they can see each other. My guess is that it helps them associate good feelings with being together.

Mating season can be a challenge, as hormones run high, and it’s the same for ducks as for young humans. They can be testy, and fickle, and very emotional. Hang on, it tends to work itself out.

And please remember that each member of the flock depends upon the human to protect and keep him or her from harm, regardless.

But we are not in mating season (yet), these are girls, the flock is all-girl, so I have hopes for a fairly smooth transition. Adopted adult ducks have some unknown characteristics, such as whether they were human-socialized or not, traumatized or injured or not, accustomed to having swimming water, and so forth. Once again the learning curve here will be steep. But we will have the satisfaction of knowing we are sheltering two more ducks who could have had it much worse.

Stay tuned!

P.S. While we're at it, I want to give a shout out to Pam Nixon at Nevins Farm Shelter, part of the Massachusetts SPCA, and to Kimberly Link, of Majestic Waterfowl Rescue in Connecticut. They both know of the problems that dumped waterfowl face, and are working to help rescue and rehome as many as they can.

Feb 17, 2019

Guerrilla Gardening Workshop at Laughing Dog Farm

Yesterday my beloved and I traveled to Laughing Dog Farm in Gill, Massachusetts (U.S.) for a workshop on guerrilla gardening. I had wanted to meet Danny Botkin and Divya Shinn for some time, since learning about their work through social media.

So when the announcement for the workshop appeared, I signed up right away. My beloved also wanted to see how they do it. And who can resist a visit to a farm named in honor of one of the most amazing creatures ever?

Here is the url to explain:

And there are goats. When there are goats involved, I want to know more.

Let´s get back to guerrilla gardening. According to Danny Botkin:

“Guerrilla gardening might be described as a way of viewing food growing that is less planful and formulaic and more opportunistic, situational and intuitive. Such a farmer responds nimbly to unexpected windfalls and shifting circumstances, rather than reflexively following fixed protocols, plans or formulas. All farme more