Adventures in Ducks: Winter Edition

The ducks are finally back outside to their regular routine and should have good temps for the next week or so. I suspect temps will be temperate going forward, but I’m still bracing for a big spring snowstorm/blizzard, we are due. At least we have a solid plan if that happens – the bathroom works very well.

The bathroom has been stripped and cleaned from the ceiling to floor and ready for human use again.


 

Ducks In A Tub, Rub-A-Dub-Dub

We are sub-zero all weekend. The coldest weather we have had since 2014, so we haven’t had to factor that into duck care since they arrived.  I fortified their coop, installed a thermometer, and read up on how best to shelter them in frigid temps.

Everything I read reassured me they would be fine, their downy little bodies with a good layer of shredded wood chips and straw would stay toasty. And I always add a gallon jug of hot water each night during the winter.

Uh-huh. I lasted one night with that – we hadn’t even reached sub-zero yet – their coop stayed in the low 20s. I just didn’t think I could sleep once we were at three days of sub-zero temps if they stayed outside.

So inside they came. I’ve always had a backup plan for blizzards – they could stay in the Dane crate in the garage. But that would assume warmer temps and a shorter duration (until we got the coop dugout and then they could go back out there and be toasty in a snow fort).

Ducks are messy and I just couldn’t imagine what havoc three days in a crate in the garage would cause and how difficult it would be to clean.

How messy are ducks? Picture giving a toddler a bowl of spaghetti sauce and a sippy cup with a loose lid. Worse than that.

And I expected them to be stressed, they hate change  – stressed ducks really need water – throw a stressed duck in a pool or bathtub and they calm right down. No way to do that in a frigid garage.

So the solution seemed to be the bathroom. The mess could be contained – there is nothing in there that can’t be thrown in the washing machine or washed down with bleach once confinement is over. And they could float around in the bathtub all day and sleep in the crate at night.

Also, I could regulate the temperature in there easily by opening the window as needed. The ducks are all decked out in their winter feathers, down and fat, and could overheat easily.

Not how I expected to spend Valentine’s weekend, but they are safe, happy and adorable, so we’ll cope.

BTW, between the pig last weekend and the ducks this weekend, I am definitely team, “some animals need to live outside.”


 

Ducks on a Winter’s Day

Maddie and Mabel love snow. I have to shovel paths for them, so they’re not up to their eyeballs in snow, and then a patch under the bushes where they can warm their little feet. They are like little down coats, so a little snow is no deterrent to their job of patrolling and guarding the yard.


 

The Yard Is A Little Quieter Today

When I went to let the ducks out, Penelope had passed during the night. She was fine yesterday and a little lethargic when I put her to bed last night. I checked her out before bed, no sign of injury, no discharge from eyes or nose – so no virus. It will remain a mystery, but am keeping a close eye on Maddie and Mabel in case it was something viral.

She was more an exuberant puppy than duck and the yard will be quieter without her and my mornings will be a bit less happy without her demanding I pick her up and give her scritches.