We had just finished a nice dinner of chicken and cashews at our favorite Chinese restaurant and were driving back home. The conversation went something like:(me) – When I stopped by the Tractor Supply Store to look at their barn door tracks I saw they had ducklings again. (Delphine) – That’s why I took so long in there the other day when I was picking up the seed block. (me) – They are so damned cute. (Delphine) – We could keep them in the hen house. (me) – Do you…? (Delphine) – Yes!
One U turn and thirty minutes later we had a little cardboard box in the car making peeping sounds.
Last time we had ducklings we made the mistake of keeping them with chicks in a brooder with a screen floor that was supposed to pass poop down to a metal tray. The ducklings grew much faster than the chicks, pooped mightily, fouled the catch tray, and hogged the water. Still, they were the happiest creatures either of us had ever seen – preening their new feathers, their first swim, flapping their powerful wings, and their first liftoffs and hilarious landings.
This time our six ducklings get their own solid-bottom brooder with wood shavings to help keep things tidy. Cleaning time we move them to a second brooder, haul the dirty one outside, and hose it down.
If the snow ever goes away, they’ll share the chicken yard with the hens and our Sheltie, Chase, will herd them into the hen house at night for protection. Experience!
We set up the brooder in the basement near the pellet stove, hung the heat lamp, dropped in the water dispenser and feed holder, and introduced the ducklings to their new nursery. They began eating and drinking almost immediately.
Eowyn (little black and white feline ball of mischief) spent her time examining the brooder trying to figure out how to open it (why we held the top screen down with four clamps). Dove (mild mannered kitty) and Dolce (backwoods huntress) simply sat and stared. Chase practiced lunging to see the flock run to the far side of the brooder and clever Kendall sought reassurance from Delphine that he wouldn’t have to share any cookies with the newcomers.
Some people go out for an evening on the town to entertain themselves. We buy livestock.