As always in this world, there are good things that happen, and bad things. I had two Muscovy hens sitting on eggs…but only one hen managed to hatch out her babies. My black hen, Tabitha, did hatch one successfully, but I found it dead in the far corner of her broody pen the following morning. It didn’t look injured or malformed, it just looked like it got out of the nest and died of cold. I suspect she threw it out, not recognizing the baby as hers? This is the second time she’s failed to hatch eggs, so I may not let her try again next year. We’ll see.
But the other wannabe mama, Tilda, is going great! she hatched nine ducklings, and they are just the cutest things, ever.
That is a just-hatched duckling…not even completely dried off.
She is super happy with herself, and super concerned I’m going to steal her babies. She’s my skittish hen, never very friendly, which is unfortunate, since all I want to do is snuggle ducklings.
A few days after they hatched, I let her take them out into the duck run, and one of the babies just…disappeared. I looked everywhere for signs of what happened, but there was nothing. I suspect the little hawk that lives in the field behind my house got it. So then I had to keep them confided in a more secure area for a few weeks until they were less vulnerable.
And the ducks are doing the job I hoped they would! Bindweed control! My entire garden is infested with bindweed, to the point where gardening is very frustrating. If I don’t pull it continually, it literally devours everything.
But I started noticing something…the bindweed is dying! Where it was grown up through a rose bush, it was all brown and dead! One area of the fence that I had pretty much given up on, was suddenly bare.
THAT, friends, used to be a solid wall of bindweed! Now it’s just…gone…except for some brown and dead leaves the ducks can’t reach.
And the fence along my chicken run, used to be overgrown, too.
But it’s not all the muscovy ducks’ work. Goosie has been working too. She’s getting everything on her side of the fence. And she’s been picking at the dead stems of bindweed wrapped through the wire, too, cleaning it up. If I had known this was possible, I’d have gotten muscovies and a goose thirty years ago!
Of course, having ducks free ranging through my garden does have a few negative points. They have trampled down a few plants I’d rather they didn’t…but I can put wire around those. They would eat my veggies…but I fenced them out of the veggie area. And they made a mess of the container water gardens I had. So I moved one to a non-duck area and converted the other to a bog garden.
This used to be filled with water; now it’s filled with a mix of peat moss and sand. It holds the water and keeps the plants happy, but isn’t attractive to the ducks. It’s all about the compromise! And I’m happy with a few squashed plants and nibbled leaves if it means the bindweed is being controlled.
And finally, I have enough elderberries on my oldest tree to start preserving a few. I dehydrated them, and will use them to make elderberry tea this cold and flu season.