Flock Friday for December 6

A sad Flock Friday this week: we lost a duck, the female Cayuga (the dark one). More info below.

But first, happier times earlier in the week. Our pond mostly froze on several days, so the ducks got to experience walking on the ice:

Ducks walking on frozen pond

And eating treats on the frozen pond:

Ducks eating treats on frozen pond

Did you see the video of the ducks walking on the ice? And the second longer video?

Another day, waddling from a non-frozen portion to greet me:

Ducks walking on frozen pond

Swimming in a non-frozen portion by the pump:

Ducks swimming in non-frozen portion by pump

Duck tracks:

Duck tracks on frozen pond

Bert & Gert:

Bert & Gert

Ducks on the bank:

Ducks on the bank

Gert and Gill:

Gert and Gill

Birds in the duck house:

Birds in duck house

Treats on the bank:

Treats on bank

On Tuesday, I noticed the two female ducks in a somewhat unusual place, in the northeast corner bank of the pond:

Ducks on bank

Gill was nestled down on the bank, with the two buff ducks hanging around nearby, possibly confused or concerned:

Gill on bank, others concerned

I kept an eye on them, and later saw them all swimming, though Gill looked a bit withdrawn, her neck kind of hunched down:

Ducks swimming

She was barely interested in treats, acting rather listless:

Barely interested in treats

Later, she was resting on the bank again, and didn’t retreat as I approached to check on her:

Gill on bank again

I examined her, but couldn’t see any obvious injuries, so I put her in the duck house overnight, to protect her from predators. She had food and water, but mostly just settled down:

Gill in duck house overnight

In the morning, I checked on her again, and encouraged her to have some water, but she was still very withdrawn. I kept an eye on her on the camera, and noticed she hadn’t moved for a while, so went out to check her again, and (as suspected) she was dead.

I don’t know what killed her. She could have eaten something she shouldn’t, or got blocked up, or injured herself on something, or been attacked by something. Since I didn’t see any injuries, it was probably one of the former.

Anyway, it’s always sad to lose one of the animals. Having lost the male Cayuga when they were ducklings, I wonder if that breed just isn’t as hardy as others.

Now we only have two ducks, the two Buffs, Bert and Gert:

Bert and Gert

I hope they both survive! When Gert starts laying, probably in spring, we’ll likely let them keep the eggs, and hatch ducklings. Which has its own risks.

Sorry to bring you down with this sad tale.

Let’s end with a couple of pictures of the chickens. Them rushing over to greet me in the veggie garden:

Chickens in veggie garden

And waiting for treats in their run:

Chickens in run

Flock Friday for November 29

A rather duck-heavy post this week.

But also with a cat! The ducks zipped over to investigate a new alien cat at the back of the pond:

Ducks investigating alien cat

I went back there too:

Alien cat and ducks

It was a very friendly cat, obviously a pet:

Alien cat

I told it to go home (back north).  I didn’t want to encourage it to hang around.

The ducks again from that vantage:


Earlier this week I slipped in the mud on the path to the duck house, so I added some straw to help give it better traction:

Path to duck house

In due course we’ll get around to ordering some gravel for the path. I still haven’t decided if I want to tweak the slope a bit, or just leave it as-is.

Here’s a nice pic of Gill:


Bert and Gert:


The ducks rooting in the grass:

Ducks rooting in the grass

Ducks rooting in the grass

Ducks rooting in the grass

Ducks rooting in the grass

This morning, the pond was mostly frozen, and the ducks were vexed, trying to figure out how to get to the duck house:

Duck with frozen pond

The duck house door didn’t open, too; I think it may have frozen shut, since it opened fine once I recalibrated the opener. Hopefully that won’t be an ongoing issue. If it keeps happening, I might have to risk leaving it open overnight, if I can’t figure out a way to prevent it from sticking.

The ducks currently just have a small area of non-frozen water in the deepest part, plus around the fountain:


They hopped out to say hi to me:


A couple of token chicken pictures:



Flock Friday for November 22

It’s that time again. Let’s start with the chickens.

Martha in a pot in the veggie garden:

Martha in pot

The chickens running to see me when I went into the veggie garden:


All four new chickens are laying; here are their eggs in a nesting box:


Recently collected eggs — including a blue/green one from the old girls, the first of that color for many weeks:


New chickens in their coop:




Laying an egg on the floor, instead of in a nesting box:


Lola, the introverted chicken; she often hangs out by herself:


Merida, the extrovert, friendliest chicken; not looking quite so scruffy as before, though still not fully feathered:


I needed to change the batteries in the old coop pop door opener:

Old coop pop door opener

A peek of the ducks on the ramp, through their house, while I was refilling their food:

Ducks through house

An assortment of pictures of the ducks on the pond:






Flock Friday for November 15

For this week’s Flock Friday update, we have some chicken egg news… but first, the ducks (who still aren’t laying, at least as far as I can see).

That’s a rather dirty bill you have there, Bert:


That’s better. And a funny expression on Gert’s face:


Got a drooling problem, Bert?


Going after mealworms:

Ducks going after mealworms

Ducks going after mealworms

Beads of water glowing in the sun:


On to the chickens; here’s looking at the new ones through the remaining weed stalks:


The older chickens in veggie garden, wanting me to open the gate into the new run (which I will do in about a week, probably):

Older chickens in veggie garden

The new chickens again:


Lavender in a nesting box; yep, she’s laying now:

Chicken in nesting box

The older chickens are still on their winter vacation, with only one egg every few days, but the new girls are picking up the slack. When chickens first start laying, they often have smaller eggs, like this one:


Lavender accidentally laid an egg on the ramp:

Laying egg on ramp

Egg on ramp

But now all four of the new girls are laying; check out that dark brown one!


(The ramp egg and these three in the nesting box were the same day.)

Flock Friday for November 8

It was an exciting week for the older chickens: once Jenn removed the potatoes and onions from the veggie garden, I was able to let the chickens in to help us clear out the remaining plants.

The newer chickens don’t get to participate yet, as I’m waiting for them all to start laying (so far only one is). But they have a large run for the four of them, and get daily treat deliveries, so I don’t feel too bad.

Here’s me opening the hole in fence:

David opening hole in fence

Here’s the hole, and chickens heading into the veggie garden:

Chickens heading into veggie garden

Chickens heading into veggie garden

Molting Merida — she is looking rather scruffy at present, as are several others. But don’t worry, it’s a normal part of their yearly cycle, discarding old feathers and growing new ones. The worst part is they stop laying while going through that; we’re only getting zero or one egg per day from all of the old chickens at present:

Molting Merida

Looking from the veggie garden back to the chicken run, and chickens heading into the garden:

Chickens heading into veggie garden

The chickens headed straight for the salad bar:

Chickens at the salad bar

Chickens at the salad bar

Chickens at the salad bar

A wide angle view of the veggie garden:

Wide angle of veggie garden

An empty chicken run; everyone’s in the veggie garden:

Empty chicken run

Every day when I do my morning rounds, the chickens come to the corner of the veggie garden to greet me:

Chickens coming to see me on morning rounds

Let’s take a look at the ducks:


Gert shaking her head:


The ducks again:


On the bank by the duck house:


I mentioned in my previous post that I waded in the pond to clean and start the fountain pump. Here are a few more pictures of the ducks from inside the pond:



Duck butts!



This picture was in that previous post, but I thought I’d include it here too:

Duck house

This morning, a heron landed on the duck house:

Heron landing on duck house

(I happened to be looking at that camera at the time, and headed out to the pond to get a better picture, but it saw me coming and flew off.)

Wading in the pond to clean the fountain pump

Yesterday I received replacement chest waders (my old ones had a hole), and used them to clean and start the fountain pump in our pond.

I had previously had the waterfall running, but it tends to lose water, dropping the level of the pond. Normally I offset that with a hose topping up the pond, but the garden water is off for the winter, so I can’t do that.

So we also have a fountain pump in the pond. We typically use the fountain when the waterfall is off, to provide some aeration, and help prevent the pond from freezing in winter.

Here’s me wearing the waders by the edge of the pond (with the chicken coop in the background):

David wearing waders

Me in the pond, cleaning the pump:

Cleaning pump

The pump, lifted partially out of the pots it normally sits within (to prevent it from falling over):

The pump

The pump started, and repositioned a bit closer to the duck house:

Pump started

The pump operating; someday I may add a nozzle for a more decorative fountain, but for now it is just a bubbler for aeration:

The pump operating

Looking at the duck house from inside the pond. You can see that the water level has dropped so much that the end of the ramp is out of the water. I wish I had made it a bit longer, though the ducks don’t have too much difficulty in climbing onto it:

Duck house

Just for fun, I waded out to the deeper end of the pond. It’s hard to tell from this camera angle, but here I’m about 20 feet from the far edge:

David near the deep end

This shows the depth at that point, about 2.5 feet. The bottom is fairly steep; it gets deeper further back. It was very cold, too!

David near the deep end

Walking in the pond; the ducks were rather confused by my strange behavior:

David walking in the pond

The pump and ducks:

The pump and ducks

Stay tuned for more pictures of the ducks taken from the pond on Flock Friday!

Flock Friday for November 1

For this Flock Friday, I’m going to include the photos in chronological order, rather than grouping by ducks, new chickens, old chickens, and birds, like I usually do.

But as it happens, we start with the ducks anyway, exploring the northwest bank of the pond and the grass beyond:




Next is a sequence of shots from inside the old chicken coop, as the pop door opens. No, it isn’t snowing inside, that’s just the bedding dust getting stirred up by their wings:

Chicken pop door opening

Chicken pop door opening

Chicken pop door opening

Chicken pop door opening

Chicken pop door opening

One of the new chickens has started laying! Here’s the first new egg, laid outside (as I expected; there are only a few places private enough to lay, and this is one of them):

First new chicken egg

So that was what I was waiting for to open up the nesting boxes, previously covered with plywood to prevent them sleeping in there:

Nesting boxes open for business

The new chickens investigating the nesting boxes:

Investigating nesting boxes

The second egg, laid in a box:

Second egg

A chicken coming out of a nesting box; now we know who is laying:

Chcken coming out of nesting box

Since we had a chicken escape through the hole in the run roof, I decided to repair it, with welded wire instead of netting as before. Eventually I want to replace all of the roof netting with welded wire, though no point in doing that just before snow is likely:

Run roof repair

Back to the ducks, on the edge of pond next to the overflow channel:

Ducks on edge of pond

The ducks with their heads together:


As mentioned on my Dejus blog, it’s below freezing at night now, so I put out water heaters, including a heating pad under the hummingbird feeder to keep it from freezing. It hangs off paperclips to prevent the heating pad from touching the plastic base of the feeder, to avoid it melting:

Hummingbird feeder with heater

A chicken in a nesting box, working on laying an egg (as seen from the outside access door):

Chicken in nesting box

The older chickens are still molting; there are feathers everywhere in their run:

Chicken feathers

Chicken feathers

I’m looking forward to them finishing that process, since they’ve pretty much stopped laying eggs at present. But having a rest is good for them.

The temperature is cold enough to partially freeze the pond overnight, though it is thawing during the day (for now):

Ducks in partially frozen pond

Ducks in partially frozen pond

That’s it for this week!

Flock Friday for October 25

It’s Flock Friday again!

Here are the ducks, in a very leafy pond (before I scooped out a bunch):


The ducks going after mealworm treats:

Ducks with treats

A couple of closeups of the female buff duck, Gert:

Female buff duck

Female buff duck

The male buff duck, Bert:

Male buff duck

Male buff duck

The female cayuga duck, Gill, with water droplets on her head:

Female cayuga duck

A night swim:

Night swim

The ducks on the lawn, rooting for bugs:

Ducks on grass

Ducks on grass

Ducks on grass

I had fun taking zoomed photos of the ducks. Here’s Bert:

Male buff duck


Female buff duck

Bert from above:

Male buff duck

Gert front-on:

Female buff duck

A couple of nice shots of Gill, showing the green iridescence:

Female cayuga duck

Female cayuga duck

On to the chickens.

Unfortunately we lost another of the new chickens; Moana flew up to the top of the run fence, into the old run, and couldn’t figure out how to get back. She flew into the tree above the old run, and hasn’t been seen since. So she is officially missing, presumed dead. But maybe she’s off on some adventure somewhere. We haven’t had much luck with these new ones; we started with 8, and are now down to 4.

Here you can see Moana on the coop roof:

Escape chicken

Here she’s in the foreground of the old run:

Escape chicken

A pity; she was the most friendly of the new chickens.

Some shots of the remaining new chickens slurping up spaghetti:

Chickens with spaghetti

Chickens with spaghetti

Chickens with spaghetti

The old chickens with treats:

Chickens with treats

Finally, hovering room only on one of the hummingbird feeders: