Posts Tagged ‘Chicken’

Spring is here and we are building up our family of animals on our project’s smallholding. Hopefully we will soon have our 1st 5 Alpacas to start our herd. Last spring/summer we started with the 1st individuals of our poultry flock – made up of two separate flocks of rescued ex-bat chickens and waterfowl (ducks and geese). It has been a learning curve and sadly we have occasionally lost birds to foxes, but it is rewarding to know that they have a much better chance at long, healthy, happy lives than they normally ever would otherwise.

ILL FATED ROMANCE: Henry The Duck and Ingeborg The Goose. We had to take Ingeborg to the vet the other day and when I returned all the other geese and Henry came running – honking and quacking at the top of their lungs! They looked so happy and relieved to see her. It was very touching. I was elated Ingeborg was OK – for myself, but especially for Henry.

Being animal lovers it is also so heartwarming to see our animals personalities develop. Just like people, some are rather shy and unassuming, while some are in the “popular group” and some have GIANT egos.  All of our waterfowl are mixed together, so they don’t discriminate among species – or even size as you can see in the photos. Initially they curiously segregated themselves according to colour which was startling (and perhaps a bit concerning to our human sensibilities) to see: the dark colours together, the whites ones all together and the two bi-colours left by themselves. Now it’s two groups according to personality: the very large geese plus very-small/big-personality call ducks in one group and all the normal sized ducks forming the other group. They still more or less come together though and apart from our gander Johannes being a HUGE BULLY, I doubt any see themselves as different to any of the others – excluding Taylor our tiny call duck drake, who thinks he is a giant goose and certainly believes all ducks are second class citizens. Poor thing, he often gets tread upon by the excitable geese, but I think he would rather die than be separated from them.

Taylor enjoys a treat with the “other” geese (meant for all the flock).

the two privileged ducks come to take a share of the treat (the little brown one was meant to be Taylor’s girlfriend and is loved by all the other birds – except Taylor)

Taylor tolerates the others for about 10 seconds and then shoos them away.

“ahhh more tasty seeds for me”.

Taylor does everything the geese do. He runs wings out when the geese run. He rampages when the geese rampage. He eats first, because the geese ALWAYS eat first. He swims in the fresh drinking water too small for the geese to get into and nips the larger ducks if they dare take a drink – because he can… He thinks he stands a chance with all the girls, ten times bigger than himself and is pound for pound probably more of a bully than Johannes is – except the larger ducks will only put up with his knavish behaviour for so long. I sometimes see Taylor taking a comic running jump at the back side of our girl geese and always spectacularly missing (he does have a lovely little call duck and other ducks to focus on, so it’s his choice). Ralph also told me he saw Taylor joining-in in a “foursome” with the geese and I didn’t necessarily take him seriously… until sure enough a few days ago I walked past the very peculiar sight of Johanes on top of Hildegard, with Ingeborg helping to balance Johannes and petit Taylor in front kind of stroking Hildegard’s beak… ermmm sorry if that’s too much information for you all, but it was soooooo funny… although maybe it’s one of those things you kinda had to be there for.

Spring Fever…

Even as early as February the whole flock started developing amorous tendencies in anticipation of spring. Our 4 boys have been “romancing” the girls, who all seem quite happy about this development (even the Campbell ducks – up until now confirmed lesbians)… Our Legarth goose Ingeborg appears to be the supermodel of the flock as far as the ducks are concerned. She is actually a very beautiful goose to be fair. All the girl ducks are in love with Henry our star drake, but Henry fell in love with Ingeborg the moment he saw her and has been courting her ever since. He doesn’t care if she is a different species. He waits outside her house every morning and launches himself at her as soon as she steps foot outside; following her around incessantly for a long while. Sadly not unlike many youthful infatuations, the object of his attention is totally oblivious to him, so poor Henry pines away in vain. Doesn’t she realise he could have any duck he wants!?! Funnily enough our gander Johannes is not as interested in Inga and prefers the less attractive (but nicer spirited) Hildegard. That doesn’t stop Johannes from biting Henry – or anyone else who gets within 5 meters of his harem.

Henry and his troup, with the loner campbell ducks in front.

Poultry are known to bully weaker individuals – our chickens all live happily together for example, but they don’t hold any punches if another chicken down the pecking order gets near their corn. We did have some problems in the beginning, but it’s lovely to see how they’ve all become one family. Even the geese who took a long time to settle in – and being quite clumsy and at the same time highly excitable, they can sometimes unintentionally squash the smaller ones when startled – are nevertheless happy with the other birds. Also all the birds are and fairly protective to the weaker ones, always being patient and watchful for our runner duck Kaycee who was born with a spinal problem and defensive of our littlest duck Katya. OK, OK all except for Taylor perhaps… So there it is. I wouldn’t say all our animals are angels but they are a joy to be around and we do love them dearly.

– Tatyana –


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