What a wonderful weekend we had here at the little farm! There were naps, and good food, and garden work, and much chicken and duck love. We had no holiday plans so we just stuck around here and avoided crowds and enjoyed our little home, which was fine by us. We got some things done that we'd been needing to do and learned that if you ever need to go to Wal-Mart (which, thankfully, is a rarity for me), July 4th is the time to do it. The place was virtually abandoned. And, while at that loathsome store, I found what I hope were some very good deals on fruit and veggies to put up. I say I hope they were good prices because in all honesty, I have no idea. But $1.50 per pint of strawberries, $1 per pound of peaches, and $0.19 per ear of corn all seemed super cheap, so we loaded up. Today will be spent in the kitchen creating jammy goodness (and no, there will be no corn jam. It was creamed and put in the freezer yesterday.).
The main theme of the weekend, though, was all about the duck and chickens. You may remember when we hatched our first eggs and brought home too many chickens. And when we were suckered into buying ducklings? Well, you could say, we kinda put the ol' cart before the horse on both of those occasions. It was the reverse of "if you build it they will come"...we were working more under the auspices of "if they come, you'll have to build it". We bought all these little guys and figured we'd have plenty of time to build a right and proper enclosure for them by the time they turned into grown-ups.
Well, time passed, and poor B tormented himself trying to figure out the perfect location and setup of our chicken pen. He kept himself up nights, mumbling, pacing, he was like a man possessed (exaggeration). At this point, we had moved all of our chicken friends to three temporary enclosures at the bottom of the yard. The enclosures were of adequate size, but...not at all what I had envisioned for my flock o' chickens. See...I'm kind of an idealist; a romantic, one could say. And ever since we got our first chickens, I've had dreams of a huge, multicolored flock of chickens frolicking in my yard, clucking and cackling, running hither and yon. I imagined sitting on my front porch in the morning, sipping my coffee, watching chicken shenanigans and enjoying general chicken comings and goings.
It took a lot of doing on his part, but B finally convinced me that this was a really bad idea. I was determined to NOT understand that if I let all those chickens run around, we'd have no garden, no landscaping, no grass. We have a lot of chickens. They would make quick work of our yard. So I settled for having five or six yard chickens. But that still left us without a viable option for housing the masses. Then, Friday night, inspiration slapped me atop the head and called me names for not thinking of this sooner.
The goat pen. *angelic voices from on high*
The goat pen was empty. And huge. (small for goats, enormous for chickens). And B was really hesitant to take it down since he worked so hard to put it up in the first place. So Sunday, we spent many hours stringing the whole thing up with aviary netting and making sure it was safe for our little friends. Sunday evening the first group (we called them the experiments) moved in. Monday morning, everyone was still present and accounted for, so we moved the rest of them up the hill and into their new digs. We were also finally able to get a somewhat accurate headcount.
Yep. We're crazy.
Now, this brings me to the duck part of the story. My poor duck has had it kinda rough so far in his young life. He came home as part of a quartet, but is now running solo due to two very bad and at least one very traumatic days. Ever since the very traumatic day, when our duck numbers were reduced to one, this poor duck has been kept in a very small pen, alone, since, well, since he's the only duck now. His little pen was adjacent to a chicken pen however, and they all formed some sort of jailhouse camaraderie, passing things through the bars, using mirrors to see one another, and making shanks out of fallen twigs. They were pretty tight. Unfortunately, the chickens he was buddied up with were the same chickens we used as our experimental group. My poor duck had lost his only friends. He railed against Heaven at this last misfortune. He quacked and cried and sulked. It was a pitiful sight.
Please understand that I have not been blind to this poor ducks unhappiness. He has been a constant source of sad for me ever since he lost his last duck-friend. I have spent much time sitting with him, talking to him, trying to keep him company and be his friend. But still, there is nothing sadder than a lonely, single duck. So, yesterday, I awoke with a fire inside. I was determined to reunite this duck with his chicken buddies and give him all the space he could want. I spurred B to action and we drove posts and hung fence and strung up aviary netting and went to catch our duck. He did not much care for being netted and carried and I'm sure he thought the end was nigh. But when I put him in his new pen, and his chicken friends heard him, they all came running and the seven of them were happily reunited through the fence. Now, my lonely little duck, henceforth known as Seamus, has a ton of room, a swimming pool, and all the through-the-fence-chicken-love he could want.
He was ecstatic. He ran and flapped and dove and swam and ran and flapped until I thought he would pass out from the excitement. I can't think of a single moment here on the little farm in which I have been happier. I have spent the last many weeks, worried about and sad for my lonely little duck and now, now! He's the king of the world. I smiled and laughed and tears fell in happiness for his silly duck antics.
Tomorrow, I will introduce you guys to some of the more memorable (and discernible) members of our flock. And Seamus. Definitely Seamus.