Tag Archives: Ducks

Gone to the wild skies …

Well, little by little you realise that the simple formula of nature is that the more animals you have around, the likelier you are to experience death much more frequently. The last thing I wanted to be doing on a Friday after work was lifting the dead weight of our two lovely ducks (gifted to us by the previous owners and with us for nearly 2 years now) into sacks, but that’s what I did. I am quite girly about dead animals. I can handle a dead mouse, dead possum, dead chicken … but ducks have a different weight that tells you that you are handling a ‘being’ – that’s probably not the right word, but it describes the exact feeling.

The chickens at the moment are not able to free range because of the wily fox last seen a few weeks ago now. Although the chicken run is large, it’s not right to keep ducks within it, and with a few days of warmer weather I had decided to take a risk and let them out for the day so that they could get onto the ponds.

I’m not going to write too much about the circumstances in which they died, because it’s speculative – I didn’t see what happened or when but I chased off a domesticated dog that isn’t ours. I’m not going to write about it here as I’m just writing to purge my fragile thoughts so that I can get on with my weekend. Of course part of my fragility is down to my own decision to let them out for a swim. There’s guilt there that will ache for a while.

Anyway, I thought I was cool about disposing of the bodies, talked to the chickens while I was doing it to distract myself, busied myself doing weird stuff I didn’t feel like doing (I baked some cookies! – why??????) … but then – the inevitable. In a tsunami of sadness whilst cooking falafels (pretty inconvenient) I realised that distraction is sometimes not the best approach.

It was strange, to have such a delayed dose of freaking out later on, but I felt much better for it, even though the falafels and the cookies came off worse, in an inedible sense. 😉

At least I can now get back to my normal self and be analytical and philosophical about duck death. There are no more ducks now.

Plus, it’s just another learning curve, and next time I have to ‘feel’ the weight of something dead, I’m sure it will probably be a bigger animal again, and I’ll wonder why I felt so haunted about the ducks – and haunted I am. I can’t get the image of how I found them out of my head. It just seemed tragic to see such beautiful animals, that I associate with wildness and freedom and flight, instead inanimate and cold-eyed.

Dependable ducks

The fourth duck (Finn) survived and all are now strong little specimen’s of ducklinghood. Watching Withywindle teach them to swim in their drinking bowls has been one of those first warm fuzzy life moments where the mammoth wonder of life on earth seems endless. Animals are amazing, it’s only humans who dissapoint.

1st ducklings


Ducklings have hatched this weekend! Here is a photograph of the latest, only 20 minutes ago.

There is a beautiful relationship between our ducks. We have an old female and a younger male and female. The younger female, Cirrus had as far as I can tell, laid the eggs and dutifulyl sat on them for most the of the month. However she seemed to lose interest a few days ago and although still acting all defensive and motherlike, she hasn’t been near the eggs but prefers to free range with her man.

Trusty old Withwindle though took over and is now foster mum (if not biological mum – hard to tell without seeing the lay) to the ducklings that have hatched over this weekend.

Another hatched this morning, but Withwindle had gone wandering. I found her three hatched ducklings wandering amongst the free ranging chickens nearly 10 metres from the safety of the shed and gates. More alarming than the roosters showing an annoyance towards them, our cat Merlin was very aware that 3 snacks were close by. Even as I got the ducklings into the safety of a pen, he went for them and I had to intervene. Cats can’t resist babies.

Finally, I managed to get Withwindle into the secure pen with her three ducklings. I went back up into the shed and waited for the other duckling to hatch because the nest is sited in an area open to predators during the day.

It is incredibly hard not to intervene whilst watching a tiny lifeform struggling out of its shell, but it’s simply a part of nature that the weak ones won’t get out. One of her other ducklings managed to crack the shell last night, but when I checked this morning it hadn’t made it out. I thought at lot about intervening while I watched this duckling hatching this morning, but I made myself not feel the need to ‘rescue’. Sure enough, the litlle duckling made it.

At this point I had to intervene to get the duckling to Withwindle. She was understandably pissed off at me for kidnapping her baby and communicated that to me with some hefty human bashing. I hope my handling doesn’t make her reject this 4th little one. All the ducks have the same markings as shown above so are a bit hard to name yet, except for one which is bright yellow which I’ve called Tubby because it looks exactly like the floaty bathtub ducks.