Ducklings: Day 6 – Duck mom or duck slave?

Slowly but surely, I am becoming a duck slave. I can’t sleep in any more. The ducks are always screaming to go out at first light! But you just can’t help loving them to death.

I am not sure how long I can survive being a duck mom! I am exhausted all the time trying to keep up with them and at the same time do yard work, housework and cooking. They are growing bigger, eating more (and more messily), pooping more, running and swimming faster and basically not at all placid animals who will go to bed when you want them to, even when it is past 8pm.

The weather today was not nice at all. Cold, windy, overcast and wet: 12°C outdoors compared with around 25°C and hot sun the last few days. The ducks still wanted to go to the pond as usual, so I let them out and went to do some housework. They know the way to the pond, and if I’m not escorting them, they simply sprint there as fast as they can. Everything’s good.


Ducklings huddling on pond plant

However not too long after, I had to rescue them because it had started raining. The poor things were freezing to death and were trying to keep warm by lying in a pile on top of each other on a pond plant, peeping their little hearts out. Somehow they didn’t dare to come back to the house, or were too cold to move, and were waiting for me to come get them.

I am ever amazed at the instincts these creatures are born with. I remember reading that if they get separated from their mother, they will wait at the place they last saw her. On Thursday, when our visitors were here, the ducks had no problem going to and fro between the house and pond whenever they wanted to take a break or to eat their duck chow. I think this is because everyone was sitting outdoors where the ducks could see them, so they felt quite safe to wander around. Today I was inside the house and they didn’t know where I was.


Safe inside a nice warm place

Later in the afternoon, they insisted on going to the pond again, and for the second time, had to be rescued. After their swim they got out of the water and stood shivering on the edge of the pond, apparently lost as what to do next. H. quickly went out to them, picked them up and put them inside his fleece-lined shirt. They crawled to the warmest place, his underarms! One peeped out from his collar – it was too funny! In the wild, they would have simply ducked under their mother’s wings to keep warm.

We later went to the farm supply shop and got a roll of chicken wire. The ducks meanwhile had to be confined to their indoor cage while we were out for their safety. I built a temporary barrier around the place where the ducks had tried to escape over to our neighbour’s garden. Fortunately most of the rest of the fence is covered by creepers, shrubs and bushes. The chicken wire is not 100% guarantee since the ducks could still crawl through the bushes to go through the garden fence, but will at least keep them from going by the fastest path and allow me extra time to catch them!


Makeshift heated napping spot for a cold day.

I put up the fence while watching over the ducks in the pond – it was cold and drizzling outside but I just wanted to get the job done. When the ducks finally decided to come in later, we were all so tired we napped in the living room – the ducks on a towel with two jam jars filled with hot water under it, and me and H. on the sofa and armchair. I didn’t put them in their cage since they hate being in there and only reluctantly go in at night. The ducks seem to be quite happy and secure when they know we are in the same room where they can see us – otherwise they will either make a lot of noise or come looking for us. The only time they do not do this is when they are in the pond, so I am quite happy they spend a lot of time in it!

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