August 30, 2015

A Duck Nest

As I wrote in a previous post, I noticed that the ducks weren't laying eggs in the coop anymore and I had an inkling that Mrs. Bossy Pants (as the boys named her) might be hiding her eggs somewhere in the yard.  I watched where the birds were going in the morning and discovered their little nest.  It was nestled in the dry leaves by a couple dead trees, right at the edge of the woods near the pond.  There were two eggs in it when I found it.

I told Josh that it looked like the ducks were determined to raise some babies, and we decided to let them try for some ducklings.  This meant, however, that we needed to seriously get busy building an enclosure for them so that when the mom started to sit on the eggs she would be safe.  We debated what to do in terms of trying to fence in where their nest was or move it.  We thought they would certainly be safer up by the chickens, but it would also be good for them to be near the pond when the babies were ready to go out for a swim.  Looking at where the duck nest was, we just couldn't get a fence in the spot because of the dead trees and uneven ground.  So, in the end we decided on a compromise: move the nest out about fifteen feet, under the willow tree, where we could safely fence it in but it would still be close to the pond and the woods.

First thing we had to do was fish the "floating" duck house out of the pond, where we had never succeeded in getting the ducks to use it.  We widened the opening at the front as well to let in more light and air.  Then we set it in place under the willow tree.

At this point, I carefully carried over the dry leaves and other nesting material the birds had pushed together in the woods.  I placed their two eggs in the nest, just inside the duck house where they could see them.  

Next, we needed to fence it in.  We wanted to do this project with as much reused material as possible so my husband went scavenging around his workshop.  We collected a trailer of items to use: a few t-posts, a portion of a roll of welded wire fencing, some treated wood boards, scrap metal, old hinges, zip ties and screws.  The only things we needed to buy were a few more t-posts and a little more welded wire fencing.

I measured out an eight foot square around the duck house and set the t-posts in the ground while Josh used his welder to construct a gate.

Then we worked together to run the welded wire fencing around the edge and over the top of the enclosure.  We used zip ties to hold the roof to the sides.  A piece of wood in the center prevents the roof from sagging down too much.  We used the treated wood at the base - one board inside and one outside - to make a skirt board.  Our hope is that this will make it harder for predators to come in at the bottom.  Finally, I hung my "Ducks" sign above the gate and we made a latch with rope and a carabiner.

I put some food and water in the enclosure for the ducks and tonight we will carry them down and put them in.  Hopefully they will take to the space and add more eggs to their collection of two.

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