I entered into raising ducks thinking it would be simple to bond with my new baby ducklings and it would be a lot of fun. After all, I figured that I have tamed feral cats, sheep and even a couple of chickens. How hard could bonding with a duck be? Youtube videos made it look so simple. There are many videos of cute little ducklings waddling behind people, which made me think it was simple. It may or may not be simple but for me, I think I am learning the hard way how not to bond with/tame ducklings. For me, it has been like seeing something on pinterest and thinking it would be easy and then trying it and it ending up being an epic fail. But my ducks and I are in it for the long haul and hopefully we will learn to at least co-exist.
I will admit that my ducklings do not like me. This did make me sad because I expected some kind of bonding within the first week of having them. But I have learned so much since then and bonding with ducklings isn’t necessarily something that happens easily. I have talked with many duck owners who have ducks that don’t like them. I wish I had learned this before getting ducks so I didn’t have unnaturally high expectations. So maybe I shouldn’t feel bad when giving a mere glance at one of my ducklings is met with a look of fear and dread?
I feel like I have tried so much to help tame them and so many of the things I have tried have been the wrong things to try. Maybe for some people these things work but for me and my poor ducks, it didn’t. Maybe I have been trying too hard as well. With cats, you can not force them to like you. It takes time and patience and they have to come to you, you can’t come to them.
The number one thing that has caused my poor ducklings so much heartache is me trying to hold them when they didn’t want to be held. The poor duckling chirped madly as though I was about to take them away from their siblings forever and murder them. I was told to hold them and handle them until they got used to being handled and would settle down. My poor duckling just got louder and more squirmy with fluff flying the longer I held it. It’s warning cries alerted the others to run away and hide because this big scary monster was coming for them next. Now any movements of my big scary hands causes them to run and hide for fear that they will be next. Unless I have peas…. Peas makes everything ok….. Well unless I try to reach for them while I have peas. Then they remember the big scary monster is coming for them. I can imagine them having bad dreams of this hand coming for them and being restrained against their will. The poor ducks.
So now I am trying something new. Just sitting in the pen and reading my book and not even looking at them so they get used to me. At first, just sitting in there was so scary for them and they ran into a corner terrified. But eventually they got the courage to come out and play with each other and got close to me. 🙂 Although any sudden movements from me or glances in their direction causes them anguish. I guess all the treats I give and reading I do for them isn’t enough to undo the damage and trauma of being held. Maybe just sitting there and letting them get used to my presence will be helpful.
I had hoped to share on this blog what works but maybe sharing what doesn’t work (at least for me) is also helpful. I am sure that holding ducklings can work if you know what you are doing and maybe if it is done right off. But for me, it definitely did more harm than good. I just hope that in the process of learning, that I don’t cause lasting damage that I need to find them a duck therapist later in life.
I haven’t been on here in a few days because I have been rather occupied with the ducklings. But I did want to come on here and share some more photos. 🙂 They are really starting to change colour and continuing to grow like weeds! 🙂
I had to replace their kitty litter pan with a larger kitty litter pan for them to swim in the other day because they outgrew their other one already. I have been struggling with creating a proper ramp/steps for them to use though to get in to it.
This morning it snowed and I offered them a snowball. 🙂 At first they were scared of this weird white ball but once they realized it wasn’t going to hurt them, they realized it was fun. They had a blast playing with the slush. lol
They were not laying in a great place when I brought my good camera out and were a little scared of it since I don’t use it often around them. I might have to share some of the photos I have taken with my phone camera tomorrow. They are looking more and more like ducks every day!
Stretching those little wings!
So I have read over and over how much Ducks love peas. You can’t read too much about ducks without learning this interesting fact. Since my ducks are small still, I didn’t think I could try peas yet. Although the other day, I did find a bag of “Petite Peas” though (a bag of frozen tiny peas) and decided to squish them so they are small enough for my ducklings. The fact that Ducks love peas is definitely true! lol
I do not know what it is about peas, but the ducklings adore those things. They eat them like candy. I can now see how people train ducks by using peas as an incentive. 🙂 I had them following the peas in my hand and I was able to teach them to step up on to a little step I made to help them get in to their swimming pool (kitty litter pan). They were even willing to step into my lap to get a pea. 🙂 I had struggled to get them to eat out of my hand, or trust my hand even, until I had peas. I am glad to have this food now to help me teach them to do things or help them to trust me. 🙂
I am starting to realize that having ducks and keeping a blog about the ducks is difficult because the ducks are quite time-consuming. In fact, doing much of anything other than taking care of the ducks has been difficult. I am so grateful for our pvr. lol I am hoping that as they get older, the amount of time devoted to taking care of their needs will decrease…. maybe? What takes the most time is cleaning because they poop so much. So anything you can do to minimize the amount of time spent cleaning is very good. 🙂 That way, you have more time for the fun stuff like playing with them. 🙂
On Wednesday and Thursday, we built a new pen for them that is much bigger and roomier. They were quickly outgrowing their first pen and in terms of cleaning, it really wasn’t working. I was cleaning it up pretty much every hour. I clearly wasn’t doing things correctly. lol I had mats that I was switching out and cleaning as they got full of poop and water. Ducks stick everything in their mouths so you can’t use shavings at first apparently. Also newspaper isn’t good because it gets wet and slippery. They also like to chew on newspaper which I found out the hard way. I used newspaper underneath the mats and when it was exposed, they loved to chew on it.
The new pen looks like a fortress almost. A fortress to keep the cats out because the ducklings are still too small and still look like dinner to our cats. We built it around the first pen so that the first pen is still used for their sleeping quarters and contains the heat lamp as well. This way, they also have a familiar area as well. The new area has straw in it to help with the poop and water that gets spilled. Because let’s face it, they are ducks and ducks love water and water will be spilled a lot. lol They now have room for a little “swimming pool” (a kitty litter pan) as well. They love that thing and swim often. 🙂 The straw makes a huge difference in the amount of time spent cleaning and they love chewing on the straw which is apparently ok.
There is now also room for me to sit inside the pen with them so that they can get to know me more. I sit on a kneeling pad in the corner and they can approach me if they want to. I sit there very still and let them come up to me and I don’t make any sudden movements. I talk to them and they almost seem to respond to me talking. They have climbed on my lap momentarily and nibbled on my jeans as well. So we are definitely making progress. 🙂 They will not let me touch them yet but I hope that will come.
They seem to be a lot calmer in the new pen as well. I am not sure what it is exactly but they don’t freak out nearly as much. I can open the door now with out them panicking. If I move slowly, I can reach in and grab their Waterer or food dish to fill up without them feeling the need to get up and run. They still watch me very closely but they are calmer. I don’t know if it is the extra room or that maybe they are getting used to me.
I am definitely learning a lot and I will try to keep up with posting what I learn too. 🙂 Now for a photo of their new pen and a couple of photos of the ducklings themselves. 🙂 They are growing so fast!
Secret Duck meeting. I wasn’t invited. lol
On Sunday, I started reading to my ducklings to help them recognize my voice and hopefully bond with me. I am glad that I decided to start on Sunday so that I was able to read to the smallest one before she passed away. They seem to relax when I read so I hope that she got to feel relaxed for a little while in her very short life. 🙂
I decided to read them Tom Sawyer. I doubt they understand the words so it likely doesn’t matter what I read but it has been a (very long) while since I read that story myself and I have wanted to read it again. It is actually kind of cute because they all lay down and watch me. They will tilt their heads sometimes too. Then they slowly start nodding off to sleep and I feel like I am reading them a bed time story or something. lol I hope it helps to tame them and they get benefit from it as well. If nothing else, I am getting an excuse to read Tom Sawyer again which isn’t so bad. 🙂
Yesterday morning I discovered that the smallest duckling had passed away overnight. I was devastated. I had really hoped that I could help her survive. But sometimes some babies just don’t make it. She was much smaller than the others and there seemed to be something wrong with her. I had hoped it wasn’t anything that would kill her but I guess it was. So I buried her. I couldn’t do anything else because of my concern for the cats finding her and eating her. That would be bad.
I didn’t post yesterday because I was also dealing with quite a bad migraine. I was only managing to get done what I had to get done and nothing more. I hope that today goes better and the other ducklings continue to thrive. 🙂 They are growing so much every day!
Today I was happy to see that the duckling with leg issues was walking much better without any help from me. 🙂 I don’t know what happened but I am glad that I did not need to intervene.
The smallest duckling started eating a fair bit today. 🙂 She seemed to have quite an appetite which was wonderful to see. She is also kind of funny to watch when she is done eating. She seems to either try to fall asleep standing up or she stays standing to maybe keep from falling asleep. She will stand there with eyes slowly closing and nodding off only to kind of startle awake again when her head droops too far and then start nodding off and this keeps going on till she finally kind of gives in and lays down. In some ways, she looks like someone trying to stay awake and in the end finally gives in to sleep. Either that or maybe she really wants to sleep standing up. 🙂
There isn’t much more to share today. All of the ducklings seem to continue to grow and it is exciting to see. 🙂 They seem to be getting a little less scared of me maybe as well. 🙂 Now here are some photos. 🙂 The first one has all of the ducklings in it. The smallest one is stretched out in the front. 🙂 You can click on the photos to make them larger I believe as well.
Today I learned a few lessons, one of which is that cats love duck food too. I was scooping the duck feed into buckets to keep it from attracting mice but didn’t realize that cats are a problem too. I learned this because I wasn’t finished filling the one bucket but had to go check on the ducklings so I left the lid off. I figured a few minutes away should not be an issue. I came back a few minutes later to find my one cat with paws in the feed and chomping away at the feed. I never expected that. I should know better…. but I must have forgotten. I only remember our dogs wanting to eat the sheep grain but nothing about the cats and chicken feed. Well I won’t leave duck feed out in the open again. Lesson learned. lol I just hope my kitties tummy will be ok.
Here are a few updates of things that happened today.
I had to go out and check on them at around 4 am because I was having bad dreams that someone took them and hurt them. I also needed to check on the temperature to make sure it was still warm enough. I expect I will feel better if I check on them around the same time again tonight. I don’t want them to get cold.
The ducks look bigger already today than yesterday. 🙂 I can see now how they can be nearly the size of adults at 8 weeks old!
Sadly, I found out that they are still very afraid of me. I thought we had made some progress yesterday but maybe not. It doesn’t help that I scare them when I have to change their water and give them more food. Otherwise, it may go better to help them know I am not a threat. I have read that talking to them really helps them get to know you. I am considering reading a book out loud to them that I want to read anyways. They can hear my voice and I can get through more books. 🙂 It’s a win win! 🙂
They make their water dirty so fast. I changed it at least 3 times today. I expected as much. I am using a chicken Waterer and I decided to not fill the top part and just put water in the bottom part. I have to keep changing it so there is no point filling it more than necessary. I leave the top part on so that they do not walk through the water as much. I am hoping to be able to make changes as they get bigger so that it makes less mess.
The smallest little duckling is still so tiny and falling behind. But we saw her eating and drinking so we are sure she has something in her tummy at least. I wish I could help her but picking her up will just scare her so I have to let her find it on her own for now? I will intervene if she isn’t looking lively enough though.
The one male has his legs going out sideways and he can not walk very well. I had hoped it would improve today but it hasn’t. There is a remedy in the book “Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks” where you tie the legs together with string so they can not go out sideways. I am hesitant to do that because I worry about causing more harm than good. But I may have to do something because it will hurt him if I just leave it be I think. So that is on the agenda for tomorrow I think. Wish me luck. 🙂
Today has been a very long day and I am expecting tomorrow to be more of the same. I should get proper sleep so I am not really tired tomorrow. So good night and thanks for reading my blog! 🙂
Today the ducklings arrived! It ended up that they came today instead of tomorrow. So that is why I didn’t post anything yesterday because I have been quite busy finishing getting everything all set up. As far as I am guessing, there might be 3 boys and 3 girls. 🙂
They are settled in to their new home and seem content. They seem to wake up when I go in to check the temperature and on them and they go running to the food and water. lol The smallest is a girl I think and she hadn’t eaten anything until tonight finally. I am not sure if she just wasn’t hungry yet or not. They apparently don’t really eat anything for so long after they are born. I hope that is all that it is and she will start eating and gaining on the others soon enough!
I have been talking to them a lot and hoping that they will learn the sound of my voice and know that they can trust me. They are scared of my hands right now so I don’t want to put my hands in the pen or touch them unless necessary. I even considered reading a book out loud to them just so they can hear my voice. They seem to quiet down and close their eyes when I talk so it must mean that my voice isn’t annoying?
As far as my two cats…. they are sure curious but I have made sure that they can not reach the ducklings and I will not take a chance to find out whether they see the ducklings as dinner or not. When I am not there, they seem to leave so they must not be too interested. But Chloe (my kitten who will be 1-year-old in October) seems to be jealous when I spend time with them and not him. He acts out to get my attention. So I think for him, it is more that there is something taking my attention away from him. Hopefully that doesn’t make him want to get rid of them. I hope everyone will eventually at least tolerate each other. They don’t have to like each other…. Just tolerating each other would be ok.
Here is a photo that I took when they first came home. 🙂
Here is a photo of a few of them in their new pen.
They are adorable aren’t they? I love watching them stretch and flap their little wings a little. 🙂 They are so cute when they do they waddle around too. 🙂 Everything they do is cute if I am being honest. lol Even the way they pick up their food and drink the water. 🙂
Thanks for visiting and hopefully enjoying the post with photos. 🙂 I hope you will come visit again soon!
Today I want to share a little bit about Welsh Harlequins and why we chose them over other breeds.
First a very, very short history of the breed. They were created in 1949 in Wales when “Group Captain Leslie Bonnet discovered a colour mutation among his flock of Khaki Campbells and began breeding selectively for the trait. By 1968, hatching eggs were exported to the United States, followed by the importation of live birds in 1981.” (Wikipedia)
They are a light weight breed and among the top egg layers. They are around 4.5-5.5 pounds full grown. Some hens can lay more eggs than chickens. Apparently in North America, the Welsh Harlequin is considered critically endangered because there are so few. (Wikipedia)
The Welsh Harlequin is raised for its practical attributes of being highly adaptable and excellent producers of lean meat. (Livestock Conservancy)
Just a few last qualities to share that you can find on multiple websites. The Welsh Harlequin is considered to be broody so a pair can successfully hatch and raise ducklings on their own apparently. They will lay through out the year if conditions are right where other duck breeds can be more seasonal layers.They are excellent foragers and great for pest control. They are quiet, calm/docile, friendly, funny (what duck isn’t though 😉 ), can handle our winter weather, smart, and their colouring is gorgeous.
I am sure this doesn’t cover everything but it is some of what I found that sold me on this breed over other breeds. I found a comparison chart in the book I am reading (Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks) that is quite interesting as well which helped me decide too. I am not sure if I can share it on here without permission but if you would like to see it, let me know.
I hope this has been informative. 🙂 Thanks for visiting and I hope you come back again! Only 4 more days until the ducklings arrive and I can guarantee that there will be plenty of photos. 🙂