February 22, 2016

…and then there were two

It was a sad morning at the farm when I went out to feed everyone and found only two ducks.



If you’ve been following our adventures in raising ducks for long, you know that we have really struggled with how to keep them safe.  We made them a duck house and a secure pen to sleep in, but for the longest time they wouldn’t go in it.  When it got dark they would go out into the middle of the pond and swim around out of reach.  Then the pond froze solid for a few weeks, and finally we were able to get them in the pen. 



We got into a routine.  At dusk they would lay in the grass by their house.  We would come down and walk slowly behind them, corralling them into their pen.  It got to the point where sometimes we’d go out in the evening and they would already be in their house, snuggled up in the straw.  It seemed like we had finally gotten the ducks situated in a home. 

video


But then the pond melted.

For a day or two they still went into their home when it got dark, but that soon changed and they were back to their moonlit swimming.  We tried to lure them out with food.  We tried to wait until they came near the edge and corral them up onto shore.  Nothing worked so we let them be.  



That leads us to this morning.  I went out to bring the ducks a bowl of food, as I usually do but there were only two.  I looked all around for the third because sometimes you’d find one off on his own.  That’s when I saw the feathers.  Piles of white feathers up on the hillside behind the pond, leading back towards the woods.  My heart sank. 

I went up to inspect the scene.  There were feathers all over the place but not much else.  Whatever ate him, ate him all.  I did find some of his bigger bones left, but other than feathers that was it. 

We have two suspects: raccoons or coyotes.  I am leaning towards coyotes based on how much of the body was gone but it’s hard to say for sure. 


So now what?  Obviously they aren’t safe out there on the pond.  Anyone have any ideas on how to get them to come in at night?  We are feeling desperate and helpless when it comes to those ducks!  They are so much harder than chickens!

6 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, Erin, I think they are coyotes, too, since a friend of mine's sister who lives up the road saw a pack of wild coyotes outside her back door. That's very sad, with all the care you've given them.
    Neighbor Rita

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  2. We have coyotes on Frank Willis Memorial Road just up the hill from New Richmond. They were longingly watching the neighbor's little dogs. I'll bet they are coyotes too.
    You can shoot them at night and you don't need a license to hunt on your own property. See the second paragraph of ORC 1533.10.
    http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/1533.10

    Here is some info for times and weapons you can use.
    http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/hunting-trapping-and-shooting-sports/hunting-trapping-regulations/allowable-hunting-equipment

    If you don't wish to shoot or trap them, here is some additional information: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/Portals/wildlife/pdfs/species%20and%20habitats/Coyote%20cardR112_F.pdf

    This hunting thing is new for me too but I suppose is a necessary evil it you have a farm.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for all the information. We do keep raccoon traps out and have begun looking into options for coyotes. I was never into the idea of hunting, but you're right, it does seem like taking out some predators is a part of keeping your farm safe for the animals you are trying to raise. So far, the ducks are being cooperative about going into their duck house so we aren't as worried because we know they are locked up at night, when the vast majority of the hunters are out, but it remains a concern. Yesterday, I went to let the ducks out in the morning and there were two geese out on the pond. The ducks stayed in their house, huddled around their nest until several minutes after the geese flew away. That seems like a good sign - being protective of their nest, which is filling with eggs! Good signs for ducklings to come!

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  3. Oh gosh! I'm sorry to hear about that! Poor ducky! I'm pretty sure we lost our duck from last summer. I tried so hard to get him to a safe spot but nope! He wouldn't. I almost positive he froze or something ate him because our water isn't frozen anymore,but no Howard! So sad!

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  4. Oh gosh! I'm sorry to hear about that! Poor ducky! I'm pretty sure we lost our duck from last summer. I tried so hard to get him to a safe spot but nope! He wouldn't. I almost positive he froze or something ate him because our water isn't frozen anymore,but no Howard! So sad!

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  5. Maybe Howard migrated? It's still early. He could come back now that it's getting ☀️☀️ And warmer again

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