Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Typical Evening

I was just finishing up making a vegan black bean chili when my husband called me to come help him deal with a persistent large turtle in the front yard. I say it's persistent because this is the second time we've had to take it back down to the pond. It's probably cursing us in turtle language, because I'm sure it thinks it's going somewhere (probably to lay eggs), but it keeps heading for the road. It got caught in the fence last time trying to get to the road.

I turned off the burner, grabbed some gardening gloves, picked it up and carried it down to the pond to release it.

Emma-the-goat followed me closely and stood on the shore with her head down toward the turtle to watch it swim away. Big mistake. While she was distracted, Arlene head-butted her from behind, nearly pushing both of us into the water.

As I caught my balance, I heard loud quacking, and saw Corky, the huge Muscovy duck in the picture below, attacking T.O., one of our two small mallard females. We have no idea why, but he's been brutalizing T.O. and P.J., the two females, recently. He almost drowned P.J. last night, and it appeared to be deliberate. (I know that's ascribing a lot of motivation to a duck, but what he's been doing is beyond the normal rough mating. He really does seem to be trying to kill her.)

I picked up a stick and started waving it to scare him off. As he ran for the water, G3, the male mallard with Corky below, flew over to take up the attack on T.O. I scared him off too. Have I mentioned recently how glad I am our neighbors can't see into our back yard?

I'd love to know why the three males, abetted by the older female Mallard, are forcing the two smaller females out. When they're not attacking them, they're ostracizing them. As a result, T.O. and P.J. spend a lot of time together. In the picture below, they got separated, and ran up to touch beaks before going off together. It was touching, especially considering what they've been going through.

P.J. stands for 'Plain Jane,' and T.O......well, that stands for 'That One,' because we never can remember what we had decided to call her. What does G3 stand for? Gus III...because we moved here with a cat named Gus, and then got a horse named Gus, so my husband insisted on naming a duck Gus too. He actually wanted to name all eight ducks Gus, but I held the line there.

Yes, we're weird.

As I stood there worrying about the two females, I felt a tug at my glove, and looked down to find a goat gently pulling on it. She wanted to be petted, of course.

I obliged her, then trudged back up to the house to put the stew in the fridge. It's a hectic pace we set here in WannaBe Land...

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  1. I don't think I'll ever understand all the complex social rules in duck society. I had my males launch an all out attack on one drake. They had been together for several years, and in the course of a night, they killed him. I never dreamed their attack would persist to that extreme after I had split them up and gone to the house for the night. I understand the neighbor thing--I had no neighbors but horses when I moved out here, and I sometimes wonder what the human neighbors think about all the things going on over here.

  2. I tried reading up on duck behavior a while back when we tried introducing some females to a group of males, and got very peculiar results. The little I could find bore out my impression that they play by rough rules.

  3. Ducks don't all get along??! Sheesh, who knew??

    I like your house--it makes mine seem normal. :)

  4. Ha, ha, yes, that's always been my goal -- to make someone else feel normal! :->

  5. Well, hello there - just wanted to say "thanks" for your nice comment on my blog. Love the looks of yours - I've added it to my Google reader. We newbie farm gals have gotta stick together! :-)


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