Tuesday, July 3, 2012
The Muscovy Menace
We unleashed the Muscovy ducks again.
We had to catch them last year as they were destroying the garden (who knew ducks liked to eat tomato plants?) and swimming/pooping in the water troughs. Two of the ducks, Aunty Mabel and the Crazy Duck, gave us quite a hard time, although the entire process was an epic effort, known to us as "The Last of the Muscovies."
They've been being tractored around the pastures in the movable coops like the chickens ever since, but it was getting really old to be moving five chicken coops every day. We did get some eggs from them when they were in the coop, but it wasn't enough to really be worth the extra time, effort and food (when they are out we don't feed them at all, and they actually begin to scorn the ration we offer. We tried to catch them that way at first and they just laughed at us).
Remembering what a total pain they were the first time, I suggested we buy them their own water trough to foul with dirt, duck droppings, grease and feathers, and park it way away from everything else. Ethan put in a water line, just for them, and we filled up the new "duck trough" with high hopes and let them out.
After a few days they were back to wandering around the barn and milking area--and even roosting on the milking shed roof. The duck trough is lonely, empty and forgotten in a far corner of the farm. They have been menacing us ever since.
There are only six of them--including the odd White Peking duck, who is the last of that long-ago batch of ducklings we had bought, only to discover how incredibly frustrating it is to pluck a duck (it was like eating a down comforter). His nickname has become "The Rapist," for reasons which would be apparent if you watched him interact with the other ducks for five minutes. It's just awful to watch. I squirt him with the hose when ever I get the chance. I keep hoping he'll get eaten by something, but no. The chickens only last a week, maximum, but this fat, flightless duck seems invincible. He even roosts on the ground. Maybe it's the down.
The first week they were out, I was milking Mairie, who is the most neurotic animal I've ever had to deal with, other than the rabbit Lily, who is related to the Monty Python attack rabbit, when this awful sound of beating wings and claws scrabbling on a metal roof made both of us jump. I looked around and saw Aunty Mabel's face peeking out at me along the eves of the milking shed. She gave a saucy "peep" and scrabbled into the middle of the roof. Then we had to endure the rest of the flock (minus Big Whitey) flying up and crash-landing the same way. I don't think Mairie has recovered from the shock yet. I certainly haven't.
While I was doing the chores in the rain last week, there was a brief spell of clear weather after I had moved the chickens, who are at the very furthest line away right now. I quickly drove back across the farm to milk the goats before it started to rain again, and met the stupid ducks in the part of the road along the power line, sandwiched between two fences so I couldn't go around. They just sat in the middle of the road and stared until I braked just before running them over, at which point they began very slowly walking down the road. I crept along behind them at 1/16th MPH. Honking had absolutely no effect, other than to terrorize Mairie, who was next to the milking paddock, and so it went for the remaining 50 feet of the road. It was raining again when I finally got out of car.
They also hang out in the barn and steal food from the buckets, poop on the paths, attack the milking area, try to drink the solar panels and generally get in the way. At least they are roosting on the mulch pile now, and I have managed to keep them out of the water troughs by diligently filling up a washtub for them every day. The dog helps with this, too.
I wish they were more edible.