Maple and myself spent the weekend creating a pen for the three ducks that we had spontaneously bought when we picked up all our chicks at Alaska Feed a couple weeks ago. The three Swedish Blues we’d bought as wee, tiny ducklings had roughly quadrupled in size and we were starting to feel bad about their cramped quarters. (To be fair, I didn’t feel all that bad, Maple was the one carrying an amount of guilt equal to the weight of the world about the deprivation Thanksgiving was feeling.)
Side Note: As a frequenter of the TS’s it’s always nice when one can actually use things that one hauls out of the Transfer Sites with the best of intentions and the least cognizant view of how long things are actually going to take. For example, if I had a penny for every time I brought something home with the idea of a)”Hinges don’t take that long!”, b)”Refinishing furniture is easy.”, c)”I’ll just patch it.” or d)”These stains can’t be permanent.”, well, let’s just say I’d have a lot of pennies.
Frequently, as one is kicking one’s way around a small, dark shed, one can be found thinking slightly uncharitable thoughts of, “WHEN ARE WE EVER GOING TO USE THESE THINGS?!?!?!” followed quickly by slightly Machiavellian, “But would he even notice if I took it back??? My memory is a lot better than his…” Though ol’ Tip-Up Town has almost gone this route more times than twice, my conscience usually kicks in before my sneaky trip to the TS begins.
All that said, it was incredibly gratifying to build this structure for almost no money. We spent $28.00 on hardware (hinges, locks, door jamb things) and that was it.
We put the duck pen next to the Trap Shed or what I’m affectionately calling, “The Part of the Yard Where Things Go to Die.”
We started by assembling all our materials.
We’d been housing them at night in a big wooden crate (which used to hold old film at Maple’s work). To continue using this wonderful crate Maple cut a whole in the side for a door.
Then we started to create the walls. Sabine knew that we were building something to keep her out…she watched us as we built the whole thing, looking for the weaknesses…
Maple and myself quickly threw together a lovely, functional door and then started putting up the chicken wire. With wire and netting Maple and I have found a good division of labor. Since I really dislike stapling chicken wire and Maple really dislikes meticulously tying netting to the wire (which I find incredibly satisfying) he’ll go around first and put all the chicken wire, and I’ll follow behind him tying on the netting; it’s nice when it’s that easy.
Once we were all done the coop seemed awful big for just three ducklings. Bitten by Fowl Fever Maple and I succumbed and bought seven more ducklings (mallards this time).
As far as spontaneous decisions go this one is turning out awful well. In their time with us our Swedish Blue’s have been plagued by anxiety and skittishness, and have so far led orphaned, fearful lives. Our friend Matt pointed out that, since they didn’t imprint on anyone in the first few days of their lives, they’re motherless ducklings and therefore terrified of everything. (Did this make me feel guiltier about killing them? A little, yes.)
However, introducing younger ducklings to the mix has had the effect of giving everyone a role (once the literal pecking order had been established). The older ducks have chilled out significantly since they’re now the ones in charge and the wee mallards dutifully follow the older ducks around like, well, ducklings. Did the adorableness just multiply by seven? Yes, yes it did.
The only soul not happy with this whole arrangement is Ms. Sabine, who can barely conceal her rage with Maple and myself for putting up all these fences which are totally getting in the way of her enjoying life. She’ll sit now, for lengths of time, watching the ducklings, tail slowly flicking back and forth. Looking at her I now always think of the line the big game hunter in Jurassic Park has about the Velociraptors, “The funny thing is, they never attack the same part of the fence twice, they’re testing it…and they remember.”
Cheers and Love,
Maple and Me