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Monday, April 30, 2018

No excuses.

If I needed an example of what happens when you a) don't follow your instincts; b) think that, if something happened one way before, it will repeat itself; and c) are just plain lazy, I got it in spades this weekend.


Saturday was the usual whirlwind of activity - all my errands, a haircut, lunch with the folks, my labor-for-vege time with Marianne, etc.  It had been grey and damp in the morning but - thank you, Universe - it cleared up briefly in the afternoon with blue sky and sun.  Just in time for my farm work!  It then went downhill quickly and, by the time I got home, it was raining.  It rained constantly, making any outdoor activity unattractive.   A neighbor had graciously agreed to pick up some books on CD from the library for me, so I squelched over to pick them up and had a glass of wine and some adult person conversation.  It was very nice.  By the time I got home it was pouring, so I had to force the dogs outside (large umbrella held aloft), feed them, feed the sheep/llama, collect eggs, then feed me.  As soon as it is starting to get dark, the chickens are snug in their coop and I close them up.  The ducks, however, are loathe to go in until it's dark.  I decided to wait until the rain eased up to go out and close them in and then promptly fell asleep in my chair.  I did not think about it again until just after I slipped under the covers.  I decided I was too tired, it was still raining and I had left it open before with no ill effects.  After all, the poultry yard is surrounded by a six-foot wood fence with chicken wire around the bottom.  You can see where this is going.


At 2:15A, I heard the ducks - shot out of bed, threw on my robe, got Lovey, slipped into boots and turned the lights on.  Lovey levitated off the deck, snarling with hair raised down her back, towards the fence.  I went out with the headlamp on and my .22 loaded.  A cursory inspection of the duck house showed only one occupant and no sign of the others.  I was too late.  I closed the door, called Lovey off and went inside.  Needless to say, there was no going back to bed.


When it was finally light, I went out to survey the damage.  Only Dolly was left and she was frozen in terror, crammed in the back corner of the nesting box.  I went out of the front gate to survey the outside perimeter of the fence and, lo and behold!, there was Dimples, looking terrorized and missing a lot of pin feathers.  I herded her back into the yard and Dolly ventured out only after hearing Dimples.  There was no sign of Cordelia or Gertie.  Not a feather.  There were only a few tiny drops of blood, so I figured it was a pair of foxes.  This was supported by the method of their entry into the yard.
It's hard to see in the photograph, but they had dug under the fence, next to the duck coop and under the gate and, thanks to me, had waltzed in the open front door and made off with C & G.  If I had been flexible enough, I would have kicked myself from here to Babylon.  Thanks to my pure laziness and arrogance, I had let them down and my dear ducks paid a heavy price.   Needless to say, the survivors were traumatized and spent the entire day huddled together, as far away from their coop as they could be.  It's interesting in that the chickens, having gone through a hawk attack in their coop, then spending who knows how many hours with the assassin perched on their roost, were over it within an hour or so.  The ducks are still not over it.  It took quite a while and some strategically placed boards to herd them back into their coop.  I had gone up to the hardware store (in Vermont) and reinforced both their door and the chicken coop door.  All in the pouring rain.  On top of that, I had gotten a rather last-minute call from my shearer and I had to scramble around to get the sheep corralled and put in lockdown for his visit this morning.
Joe with the fat eel that is Linden.
I no longer refer to him as the 'sweet sheep'. 
He's a pain.

Norman, a Cormo/Pony X, who IS
a pain, is a total bean bag for the shearer.
Go figure.

Dirty but lovely Cormo fleece.
As is always the case on shearing day, it rained, it snowed, it was cold, it was damp.  After spending some hours in cold drafty barns (I help with my neighbor's shearing), my feet felt like blocks of ice.  A hot shower, wool socks and a fourth cup of coffee later, I was on my way to the office, feeling like I was coming in from Mars.  As is also always the case, shearing takes about six times longer than you figure.  When I called my boss to let her know I was running (very) late, she wasn't too bothered.  She had taken the day off to spend with her daughters and nieces for a long weekend of spas, chef-catered dinners and farm-to-table breakfasts.  Yeehaw.

31 comments:

Joy said...

I’m so sorry about the ducks, and I too well know that feeling of having let down others. But Nature is relentless and resourceful. Don’t kick yourself so much. Our human constructs are constantly tested and, eventually, bested.

wisps of words said...

Dare I say, blame it on the Full Moon Effect?

No, I suppose not.

Full Moon Effect....Sometimes crap-o-la happens and sometimes it doesn't. I completely forgot the Full Moon Effect, this time.

Which was fine, since it drifted east, and all dropped right on top of you! -sigh-

How in the world do you take care of all those animals/critters???? And work too????

annie k said...

I am sorry about the ducks, I too lost DUCK the rescue Cayuga, when I forgot to close the coop door, and the nasty raccoon go her. I was beside myself. Much love to you.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Ahhh rats. Sometimes you're just too tired to close up the livestock. I lost a duck (one of two) and never found out what took it. All that was left was a feather or two and a bloodstain on the snow. The fox was a real opportunist wasn't it? -Jenn

Theresa said...

Oh Susan, So sorry for the loss of the ducks. I know how you feel. I do. Why didn't I call Juno in before dusk when I saw her, or leave the dang window open? Anyway, hopefully the two will recover and at least there are two. Your crappy weather sounds like our crappy weather this weekend. Sure it was foxes and not raccoons? They are both stealth hunters of fowl. Pets to the Butter Pat and Lovey. I bet she's fearsome!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Poor duckies. That's the Circle of Life though, isn't it.

Mama Pea said...

Well, shoot! We have just about decided chickens are the only smart (and totally cooperative) poultry on our place. They put themselves to bed an hour or so before dark and we just have to lock their door. When we go out at dusk, it's easy to herd the ducks into their lock-down. The geese . . . geesh, the geese. It's breeding season and the males have decided to become big bullies so Papa Pea and I both have to go out armed with long poles both to protect ourselves (!) and form a human corral of sorts to funnel the geese into their house. They have been so ornery the last two nights that my dear husband has said nuts to them and left them outside, unlocked and possibly unsafe. Maybe he's hoping someone bigger than the geese will come along and teach them a lesson. (Not really, but we wouldn't cry a lot IF that did happen.) Now, why did you say it was that we keep critters???

Elaine said...

It happened as part of the whirlwind effect, exhaustion after a heavy schedule, not laziness. You are (only) human.
I know that feeling, different circumstances, same guilt.
Go easy on yourself...but get those ducks some therapy!x

Goatldi said...

wisps of words don't be too quick to not suspect the full moon. A moon full offers excellent hunting to those enjoying a walk about with intent to do no good. The coyotes howl in mass and darn near every predator with in a 50 mile radius
is looking for an easy meal.

Susan I am so sorry but don't beat yourself up too much. I had a major fox kill 23 hens and their rooster by squeezing themselves, and probably their juvenile kits for a hunting lesson, through an opening 3 inches wide and a foot long. Apparently with fox the rule is as with Great Pyrenees "where the head goes the body will follow whether you think it can or not."

Michelle said...

Oh dear. How DO the predators know? I'm glad Dimples survived so Dolly has a buddy. Go, Lovey!

Karen Ann said...

Sorry to hear about your ducks! I have a flock of 14 chickens and I hesitate to let them free range around the farm because we do have fox, coyote, hawks, etc. I have lost a few over the years to them. But, free ranging is so good for their physical and mental health , so I do let them out of their chicken yard occasionally to roam around, hoping they won't become victims.

Elaine Lim said...

So sad to hear about the ducks. I wonder if the other two will recover.....probably need to live in your house!!

Ed said...

I'm guessing the reason is that a duck brain is slightly larger than a chicken brain which as size goes, it pretty small on the evolutionary scale! We never lost any poultry to foxes but did loose quite a bit due to coyotes.

ellen abbott said...

damn. those foxes are crafty, probably held a lookout just waiting for the right opportunity. on another note, I totally get wanting to homestead and do the farm thing. what I don't get is doing it where it SNOWS!

Susan said...

Thanks, Joy. I would be more accepting of the outcome, had I not made the decision to stay in my warm bed, instead of taking the 10 minutes needed to protect them. Hard lesson learned.

Susan said...

WOW, yes, that full moon was a great advantage to them - like a beam on the 'soft spots' of my defenses!

Thanks, Terry. I am always amazed at how predators can find the space that is JUST large enough to squeeze through. They didn't have to worry this time - the entire den could have waltzed in. And maybe did.

Susan said...

Oh, Annie. I loved my Cayuga, Cordelia, and miss her like crazy.

Susan said...

I guess I can be glad that it wasn't a fisher cat or weasel, as there would have been wholesale slaughter.

Susan said...

Lovey is awesome on defense! So is the Butter Pat, but I do think he would completely miss the fact that he was smaller than the enemy. As you know, common sense doesn't often enter into the picture when dealing with a flying sausage. Even though second-guessing doesn't get us anywhere, it's hard to stop, isn't it?

Susan said...

Yes, it's a cruel circle sometimes.

Susan said...

Seriously! At least the chickens are on the roost at a decent hour. I am now going out before dusk and herding the survivors into their coop with the help of engineering (since I have no Papa Pea). You'd think they'd appreciate the fact that we are trying to keep them safe! Ingrates.

Susan said...

You hit the nail on the head, Elaine. I do need to rein in some of the chaos on my weekends. I'm not the spring chicken I once was, and it's not as easy to get through one of those marathon days without something coming apart. I've filled the 'tub' for the ducks, feeling that having a nice bath could do wonders. It does for me. :)

Susan said...

Me, too, Michelle. I was so afraid that Dolly would be the only duck and would have to move in with the chickens.

Susan said...

It's such a difficult decision to try and do what is best for them - letting them live as naturally as possible - yet, try to keep them safe.

Susan said...

That would liven things up! They are slowly coming around, but are still not back to their normal, noisy, sassy selves.

Susan said...

We have lots of coyotes and I have to go through a lot of angst when they are cycling back through our area. I don't know that my creaky old llama (who is about 90% blind) is up to the defense of the sheep.

Susan said...

Amend to that. Even with the dreadful winter of recent memory (thank goodness it's past-tense) I am not a warm weather person. My mother, bless her heart, insisted they retire to Vermont, feeling that cold weather preserves you. There's something to be said about that, as she will be 95 this year to Dad's 96!

tpals said...

I'll have to tell my parents about yours; they do complain about winter.

So very sorry for your losses. I love ducks and wish I could keep them in town. But sometimes, even at our age, we have to be reminded about the bitter reality of dealing with livestock and nature.

Leigh said...

What a terrible experience with your ducks! The weather doesn't help, that's for sure. The hard realities of homesteading, eh?

wisps of words said...

Please... Be aware... SPAM comments are back... Had to put Comment Mod. on, because of it.

wisps of words said...

Oooops!!!!

You are smart already!

You Moderate already!!!

Well, perhaps some other of your readers, will benefit from my warning. :-)