Mrs Duck is dead. She disappeared Friday night. I wasn't sure, I knew she wasn't in the garage with the ducklings Saturday morning. She likes to fly out of the pen during the day and if I'm around before dusk she lets me herd her back inside. But Friday night I was at the farm for dinner and didn't get home till 7:30 pm. She's stayed out before, I assume with her 3 older kids. Mr Duck as usual, snoozes on the deck outside my bedroom sliding door. There were white fluffy feathers at the pond but no other sign. I thought I heard her in the garage, perhaps hiding behind the straw bales, perhaps on a new nest, but I couldn't find her. Today I found real sign about 30 feet from the pond, large black and white feathers with meat attached. Nothing else, but that is pretty telling.
And it gets worse. This week I started letting the ducklings out into the driveway, they love nibbling on the grass, being able to run about. I also filled up the duck pool. They discovered it and merrily splashed around in it for the last 3 days. I got up early yesterday and let them out around 8 am. I went inside to put some pans away, I came out a few minutes later and found Luna running about like a maniac all wet. She never swims without me so I followed her down to the driveway.
Eight of the 12 ducklings were sitting in front of the pen. I looked around, saw the pool water really sloshing about. I went over to look and just down the hill was a pile of ducklings with Yogi, Uncle Butch's labrador standing over them. At first I thought it was his brother, Boo, who killed Auntie duck and a chicken last year, but no, I later determined it was indeed, Yogi. I threw the coffee can I was carrying at him and he ran away. One duckling was already dead, a second died as I carried it into the house. A third was missing, Yogi didn't have it, so I assume it was his sister Keisha, since they had run off together this morning. (This time, no one had thought to call and warn me.)
The 4th duckling was in shock and soaked. They all were wet and muddy, they must have been attacked in their pool. I brought him in and set him in a large paper bag in front of the heater duct to dry off. I force fed him some electrolytes. When he was drier I took him back to his siblings who I had already chased back into the garage. He ran right over to them and sat down. His tail hung limp, but he moved when they moved. I finally saw him drink on his own last night and he's moving around with them this morning. I think he'll be okay but now I have only 9 ducklings and I have no idea if any are female.
I have one female in the first 3.
Mrs Duck was a good duck, an exellent mother. Whether my one known female makes it through till spring to hatch her own eggs is of course, unknown. Without being able to fence in the whole yard and pond, it's debatable whether I should continue with ducks. Time will tell.