Last Wednesday I took my little ones to the market. They sell calves, veggies for your potagere and poultry for your backyard and table. There were lots of discussion; would this one just be good for laying or can you eat it as well? For a city dweller’s ears it was a revelation. The girls, of course, thought it was all wonderful and were especially keen to go and look at the various types of chickens and ducks on display.
I was tempted but by the time I came back to give in to the temptation he’d sold out of the ducks that I’d wanted. He told me he’d be at another maket Saturday with more. Perhaps I’d had a lucky escape?
Nah! As Saturday morning rolled around I had the girls in the car and off we went to hunt some ducks down – metaphorically speaking of course. I asked the man for the ducks that were ‘collar vert’ which are Mallard ducks. In they went into a box and we set off for home.
On the way we stopped at my parents place to show them our ducks. They duly ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’, the ducks went back in the box and home we went again. Here are our ducks after we’d put them in the enclosure with the chickens. The chickens seemed quite scared of them at first; running away, clucking loudly and simply refusing to come in at night. This was the case even though the little ducks were in a cat box that I’d put them in to make sure they were safe from the larger birds over night.
I contacted my hubby in America. It’s safe to say he wasn’t too happy about the additional birds in our coop. I swore to him -these would definitely be the last ones.
We set up a paddling pool and put rocks on one side so they could climb in and out themselves. They made a lovely little cheeping sound whenever you were nearby and followed you around like you’re their mum. Adorable.
On Friday a French friend Sophie came around. She told me ‘that’s not a duck it’s a bird’. I told her that I’d specifically asked for a Mallard, collar vert, and that’s what he gave me. She kind of agreed. Kind of.
That night the ducks didn’t want to go in the coop and evaded me for a good twenty minutes as I chased them round the coop. In the end I thought to myself that they’d evidently been accepted by the chickens so they be ok and find somewhere to nest.
On Saturday morning the girls had to go grocery shopping and we were going to let the girls out on our way. I looked inside and saw one of our ducklings next to the other one; the latter was lying with its feet showing behind the dog kennel that I thought would be their duck hose, in between it and the wall. It was lifeless – my heart broke as it’s pair chirped next to it, staying with him as if for company.
I moved my way inside, ushering my daughters to get back and not come in. I hoped it would move as I got closer. Had it been pecked by the chickens? Was I completely wrong about their acceptance? I expected to find a battered and scarred duckling.
As I looked closer there were no markings. Silly of me, but I wondered if I picked it up if it would move like Apple the hen did after Bertie grabbed her. She didn’t of course.
I searched again for signs of beak marks, wondering if she’d just got trapped between the wall and the kennel. But I couldn’t see how that would kill the little thing.
That’s when I noticed the true extent of how horrible it was. Her head was missing.
She’d obviously popped it out of some hole in the coop and it had been bitten of by a predator.
It’s bizarre. When I was younger my first career was as a police officer. I’ve dealt with numerous dead bodies in various states of decay and coped. Yet this little duck really upset me. Later on as I was driving round trying to sort things out I found myself having to pull over to the side of the road to be physically sick! I don’t know what my girls thought.
Panicking and disconcerted by the memory of the solitary duck next to its dead friend I decided that I had to get another one. I went to the same market and found the same stall open and asked the man for another duck, pointing to similar birds I’d bought before. The man said « they’re not ducks, they’re birds » using the same word, oiseau, Sophie had used.
My mind raced. What did he mean they weren’t ducks? I’d asked him for collar vert canards last time and he’d given me ones just like them.
He was looking at me strangely and I said again « collar vert mallards » and he said « oui » and pointed at a completely different set of birds. I started to panic even more and he was looking at me like I was a little insane so I just asked for two. He was still looking at me strangely (unsurprising really) as he told me I’d need to keep them inside for another fortnight and mentioned a heat lamp. I was asking him if I could just keep them inside and he said yes…..but I’m really not so sure. As the encounter went on it was evident that I didn’t understand what was happening as I struggled with the language and shock (it was shortly after this I was sick), but there I had two little duck in a box in the car, with my girls in the back seat and I was driving to pick up provisions for the new little lives I had suddenly acquired.
After a trip to the garden centre I had a wire cage with plastic trays, straw, appropriate feed and new chicken wire.
As I arrived home my mind was still racing. What is the animal I have? What is a bird with webbed feet but isn’t a duck”? I racked my brains, called my mum who hadn’t a clue and was increasingly confused. Eventually an Internet search of « baby bird with webbed feet, not duck » brought up this image….
Yep. I had a goose, or a gosling to be exact. And on the same page….
Yep. I had Mallard ducklings too. That couldn’t be let out. They went in the cage.
I managed to speak with my hubby about it all and I think my still evident distress helped him be sympathetic to the two new little birds under our roof.
So for the rest of the day I hammered chicken wire all around the base of the coop with four layers going on the inside too. I think they’re safe.
I was bringing the gosling in with the ducks with the cage’s metal divider between them, as I didn’t want the little thing to be lonely.
Ducks poop a lot! I have to clean them out about twice a day and they want lots of water. So yesterday I let them out in the chicken coop as it was lovely and warm out. I gave them a little bowl of water which one immediately jumped in and splashed around.
It was so sweet; the little gosling ran straight over and was so excited when he saw them. The three were inseparable all day. Last night for the first time I took the grill out and they all snuggled up together.
If I’m worried that they may not be warm enough at night I turn the kitchen heater on.
So. Four chickens, two ducklings and one gosling. It’s crazy town.
3 thoughts on “Death Comes To La Sacre Coeur”
I’m sorry for your loss ofyour gosling and sympathize with you feeling the way you have over it. Tho this is part of raising animals it’s something I never get used to especially if I believe it could have been something I did or didn’t do. I have a terrible habit of blaming myself 🙄 for things that happen with them. I cannot tell you how many ducklings and goslings I have lost in the last 2 years but thank goodness this year has been a success.i started off with 6 ducklings then 12 more were added when my husband went for feed,at least I’m not the only one in our home that has a tender side for cute babies.😂 I raised the 18 in a wooden box with a red bulbed lamp on one side of the box where they had plenty of room to move away if becoming too warm. The constant cleaned of the wood chips after becoming wet from the ducks playing or laying in the water or the poop as you have mentioned made me overjoyed when they were able to go outside in their own coop. I then introduced them to water in the back yard and moved up to a childs swimming pool. A few months ago they were introduced to the pond where they now spend their days being kept in the coop at night.i know you and your children will thoroughly love and enjoy their antics. I wish you much success in your venture.❤❤❤
Thank you so much for this Theresa, it’s lovely to know I miss not crazy. We’ve got a heatwave here and mine are out now as it’s so hot. If I have any difficulty you may be getting a message looking for help 😉.
Thank you ❤
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