Last night we had a lot of predator action. I was outside twice to check everything. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but a lonely little Muscovy dabbling on the edge of the pond! I called out to her and she cautiously came forward to the pen. Once inside a ruckus ensued with the two males with a clear winner already decided. Once they were all securely in their house, I locked them in for the night.
She waddled stiffly and looked to be a little off balance. She has a very thick breast and looked somehow 'bigger' since leaving. Now that she has returned, I am so happy.
I do not clip their wings because I want them to be able to fly away from predators. We have A LOT of neighbors who allow their dogs to run since we are in the country. DOH! I hate it and we have already fenced three sides of the property around the pastures where everyone plays. Its about eight acres. There are another eight acres of woods on the edge of the pastures. The fence separating the pasture from the woods isn't installed yet. Cha-ching! Costs a lot and after shelling out for the three sides and a paddock next to the barn for the lambs, its getting tight. It might be a few months before we can do the last side.
I have applied for a grant and hopefully will be selected to receive help with watering and cross fencing which will reduce my cost by half. Then we may proceed. I'll know more in a couple of weeks. If we're not selected, the fence will have to wait a couple of months at the most.
My ducks travel around free range during the day and go into their house at night which is predator proof. I read that if I keep them happy and satisfied, they'll stay home. I feed them well, keep water in the pen and a nice big pond with fish and frogs, they have trees and plenty of bugs to eat and aren't harassed by any of our animals. And they have safety at night in their house which is very roomy, with two perches and two large nesting boxes. I hope they're happy and will stay home.
The only thing I can think of that may have stressed her out is the two males are constantly vying for breeding rights. They are actively breeding for the first time. I've had them for six months and raised them from little fuzzy ducklings. I need to keep both males because I read that the competition is good for them. I would like more females but I bought ten ducks and six ended up drakes. I was hoping that these females would sit their eggs this spring and we'd have some more female additions to the clan.
I took all the eggs out because now, I think, I may have mixed them from different ducks. Hopefully, they'll start over and forgive my newbie mistake.
Thank you for all your help and encouragement. Its nice to have a place to turn to when things are worrying me or when I have good news to share that only other fowl minded people would understand my joy.