Friday, July 1, 2011

Duck Routine

We’ve got the routine down for now.  The ducklings eat three times a day, all they can eat in 15 minutes each meal, which for the ten of them is a little over two cups of their feed.  After they eat, they often go over to the pool to drink more water and dip their heads in, and often jump in for a dip.  Perhaps they like to clean off.  It’s true—ducks are messy.  They go back and forth from the food to the waterer, drench the ground around the water so it gets muddy, and they often drink up the water from the mud.  They often plop down in the mud as they drink.  Food and mud all get into the waterer, which gets cleaned at least once, sometimes twice a day.  It would be more frequent if they didn’t also have the pool to drink from.  They stand around the edge of the pool and stretch their necks to drink, or jump up on the bricks I have around part of the pool, where they can reach in more easily.  Sometimes I give them some chopped up lettuce or spinach and throw it in the pool, and then they enjoy snatching it up out of the water.  They’re getting so that when they see or hear me coming, they all stand up and peep for food, flapping their little wings for emphasis.

Each morning we let them out for the day, open up the air vents along the top of the house, and switch the door from its glass window to its screen inset.  The heat lamps are on a timer; on at night, off during the day.  It’s still quite cool some nights.  I have to remember to put the cat in the house whenever the ducks are outside.  We wouldn’t want to have an altercation until the ducks are big enough to intimidate the cat.

Every other day I’m cleaning out their house, which means lifting the wire mesh frames we have for them to stand on, hosing them off, and hosing off the cement floor and scraping it to get the poop out.  Every other day I’m also dumping the pool water, rinsing the pool and refilling it.

Soon we’ll finish the duck house and paint it cute.  For now it’s functional.  Tim’s current task is to construct the enclosed paddock area we have planned, with fencing to keep predators out (including the cat) and ducks in.  When that’s done, we’ll feel comfortable leaving them outside when we aren’t home.

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