Country Life: Ducks for No Reason

We were told by the experts that Khaki Campbell ducks don’t make babies.To clarify they hardly ever get broody and if by chance they do the Khaki duck makes a terrible mother. Some of you remember the big chicken massacre of  winter 2015 when Sophie the duck managed to flee the blood thirsty fox but not without a noticeable limp.

043We assumed she’d kick the bucket but wanted a few more ducks so we stole a few eggs and gave them to a broody chicken.

Summer arrived and suddenly Sophie would go missing for hours, only appearing once or twice a day with much fanfare and noise. Ferdinand was always thrilled to see her–for 15 minutes–and off she’d go again. We discovered her 11 eggs tucked in a nest where the sheep now grazed.

Before we could decide what to do Sophie shocked us when she ran out the next day with a tiny malformed duckling dead and hanging from her mouth. My daughter and I grabbed all her eggs and found another broody chicken. Sophie screamed and cried for her eggs–so we gave a few back.

Now we have chickens who think they’re ducks and ducks who think they’re chickens all over the property. Turns out Sophie was not half bad as a mother after we rescued her baby from Ferdinand that first week. My husband re-enacted a great high school football moment with a flying dive to save the little critter. We let mother and baby bond for a while in a big tub and set them free with some trepidation. But the bonding session worked and Sophie gave Ferd a piece of her mind when he tried to get near the duckling. Now they march around as a family unit–sometimes. Other times the little one hangs out with the friends he doesn’t know are his brothers and sisters.

We’re not really sure what to do with all these ducks–but they’re so adorable and most of us don’t like dark meat. I suppose they’re just lawn ornaments.

Get ready for the new herd queen: MOLLIE

I'm ready.
I’m ready.

Here’s the way it’s done with goats: as with people some are just born leaders and so it was with Pixie. She led like a Margaret Thatcher–there was no messing with her.

004But there was a problem. Pixie suddenly decided she hated our daughter. This was not the bratty Pixie busting into the milking room for feed, kicking cans over and refusing to be moved. This was the Pixie of the head butts. This was full-on domination of our daughter. She’d grunt and rear her head back–and not for show. We tried everything to appease her, to bully her, to charm her into submission to no avail.

Pixie came this close to a trip to the butchers. A 14-year-old girl should not be subjected to a broken hip.

All the while we could see Pixie training one of her offspring to take command in the off chance she wasn’t around. We learned that herd queens breed future herd queens. Pixie picked Mollie because Mollie is curious, imperious and head strong (her saving grace so far is that her father was mild and sweet). Mollie’s sister Phoebe is timid and gentle. Pixie hardly notices her.

012I wrote a post on Craigslist throwing up the Hail Mary for Pix. I explained all of her many behavior and health problems not expecting a response. But God is good. A man with a lonely goat named Hope was looking for a companion for her. Hope was also a bit of a terror, but she respected men. Pixie respects/fears my husband.

We heard from the man last night. Pixie and Hope quickly became friends (Hope finally bullied Pixie into submission).

Mollie, time to step up–but not too much.

Goat Math: How Many Smelly Bucks Do We Need?

Matt Saracen, the new wether
Goats live here?
Goats live here?

On a sunny Saturday a few weeks back we decided that after buying our little buck, TIM RIGGINS, we needed a friend for him. I asked my friend and Upstate New York goat guru Dottie Cross if she knew anyone selling a buckling to wether (castrate) and she gave me the name of her friend Lynne who happened to live a half hour away.

We arranged to drive out on Sunday and wondered if we’d made a mistake with the address as we pulled up in front of a brightly adorned old Victorian in the center of town. Surely this was no farm.

My husband who’d been a little grumpy this morning after a long work week brightened at the sight of an old truck in the drive. A red barn down a slope came into view. Lynne waved to us from the barn and jogged up telling us she’d move the old truck so we could bring the minivan down.

003There’s Lynne waving in the truck. It started but stalled. She called out to us. “Oh, it doesn’t matter!” as the truck coasted to the bottom of the hill and she jumped out. We followed her down, parked the car and tried to keep up with our tour host as she showed us through the barn and into the back yard (about 7 acres) where ducks, rabbits, chickens and goats mingled happily on the bright green grass of spring.

A little mocha colored buckling with a broad face and big eyes followed me where ever we went (he was probably following Lynne, but I knew I was in love. My husband spotted another little fellow but then Lynne mentioned that our buckling Tim Riggins probably wouldn’t be old enough to get the job  done with our girls this fall. She’d saved a white Nubian buckling from the previous year after talking to Dottie (the guru) about a nice family who’d wanted to take Dottie’s white buck Finn last summer. It seems the husband was laid off (briefly) and so Finn had gone to another home but just before that Lynne had her doe Nayla bred with him producing the white buckling  (from great bloodlines) so, Lynne thought she’d keep him for a while.

Convincing the white buck (LUKE CAFFERTY) to come with us wasn't easy.
Convincing the white buck (LUKE CAFFERTY) to come with us wasn’t easy.

Turns out WE were that family. It was my husband who lost his job for a few weeks last summer! My husband’s eyes lit up. “Isn’t that funny that our white dog is named Nala, too? I mean only the spelling is different. Maybe we should have TWO bucks instead of one. Obviously this is fate.”

I was hesitant for a second or two. “But we still need a little friend for the baby ram we’re getting next month,” I said.

The mocha baby stood there waiting but not for long.

I do not like minivans
I do not like minivans

Lynne laughed and talked and gave advice as she scooped feed into a huge plastic baggie for us to take home. I sat with the boys in the back trying to decide if I liked white goats while the white goat tried to decide if he liked white minivans.

At home LUKE CAFFERTY (the goat) and MATT SARACEN (the goat) met dear TIM RIGGINS while I admired my husband’s fortress-making skills. He’d dug post holes, hung fences and built a goat house on one long weekend and every night this week before he had to catch a flight to Oregon for work this evening.

The boys have just stopped crying. I’ll go check them before bed. Our chicken hatched a duck yesterday and I didn’t have a second to congratulate her, but there’s always tomorrow.

Little Creatures on Their First Day Out

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher
We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher
Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. ~Rabindranath Tagore
Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. ~Rabindranath Tagore
In a dark moment I ask, "How can anyone bring a child into this world?" And the answer rings clear, "Because there is no other world, and because the child has no other way into it." ~Robert Brault
In a dark moment I ask, “How can anyone bring a child into this world?” And the answer rings clear, “Because there is no other world, and because the child has no other way into it.” ~Robert Brault