Couldn’t write this yesterday as too upset. We came home around 6pm. I start putting everyone to bed but Penquin our Pekin duck has a torn wing from Heff being too amorous. Her white feathers were stained pink and the broken feather needed trimming out. It was bleeding profusely. So fetching medical kit we proceeded to clean her up.
Tony then heard flapping. It’s normal for the new cockerels to argue a little before bed..peck order. The purchase of eight cou-nou girls turned out to be six males. A cockerel logistical nightmare given they fight. Already with three boys and different visiting rights to the hens, it was a typically French deceit. Cruel I know to say but sadly so true. Two years ago our female geese also turned out to be more male than not.
But this wing flapping was a bit too regular. Then you get that sudden chill in your bones, panic sets in and adrenalin pours into your muscles. It only took a minute for us to run across the field to where the boys are. It took seconds to realize that Ferdinand, who moments before was sitting by the fence waiting for me to give him his evening cuddle session, to have stupidly jumped onto the gate, slipped and got his head stuck in the plank gap. It took just those few seconds for Tony to grab him and pull him out to find he had passed already. I tried to massage his body but he had already turned blue. A slight movement maybe? I tried mouth to beak resuscitation but you could feel no life. The tears came and I hugged him right. What a stupid bird. What a waste.
It was shocking. He was just three months old.
He was so good natured. From day one he would come for a snuggle. On the day we bought them all and put them temporarily into the duck house as it was warm and had a little enclosed garden next to it, this little chicken came over for a snuggle. The others were nervous and ran away. They were just five weeks old, cute with their little rubbery naked necks. As they grew, the others bullied my little friend, forcing him to hide behind the foodbin while they pecked his tail! Two days later I rearranged the pen and Ferdinand had his own space. Peace.
The routine was to let everyone out daily to the garden to forage in the compost, leaves and the boys to find a stable hierarchy. With give boys and two girls it would be a little difficult but I kept my eye on them. So far none else got bullied. Ferdinand became clingy.he would cry when I left and would do his little marching dance when I returned. I was to him a mate. As he grew he turned hormonal frustrated teenager and chased by hens. Ronnie was scared and Mr Chicken would have to intervene. So he had to he patient. Just another month and the large coop would be complete and hens were ordered to keep him company. Treats and snuggles were hopefully helping pass the time.
We went through the what if we had put him to bed first and sorted Penquin after. If we had run over on the first wing flap sound. What a freak accident. A mere millimetre either way and he would have just fallen back onto the ground. He has always waited by the gate at bedtime…never jumped it. A chatty little guy who would stand on my feet whilst I sorted his food. Would sometimes peck me and make a primeval crying sound, then lean up against my legs and push his head into my trousers and want to be picked up. I felt privileged. I wanted him to have a happy life.
Farewell Ferdinand. You were like all my boys…friendly, good natured and naughty sometimes. Boys get bad reputations, stories of attacking owners and generally being mean spirited. I now have a batchelor flock and no regrets. It just takes respect, patience, quiet and habit and the boys are great. They protect the flock, an early warning signal; muster them for bed as light falls and search out food and nesting spots during sun up.
I feel calmer today. I know its country life. You can try and eliminate risks like ensuring sharp tools are put away, wire fences are installed properly, unused and water troughs are covered, but sometimes accidents happen. Animals are curious. Bumble goose got his head stuck under the fence trying to peck at the chickens. His beak got wedged against a small terracotta tile that was on the other side. The geese screamed and luckily I was nearby. The tile has now gone and I cleared back the earth to leave a space. His beak was a bit sore but he learnt his lesson. Cashew, our young male goose got stuck under an old fence panel. Geese like to investigate anything new and ideally climb on the object. The fence fell and he was stuck. Now we have all materials in another field. A Maran hen slipped between two temporary wire fences that were joined. Marans can fly quite well. We found her upside down pinned in the narrowing wedge at ground level. No damage but it just shows how easy accidents happen.
On a lighter note, we may have three ducklings being hatched this week. Our naughty Maran got broody and she has been a surrogate mum for three weeks now. Penquin wont sit. Pekin ducks generally dont. Bred for meat and eggs there offspring are incubated in farms. Its reliable. But a broody Maran is a perfect mumma. We keep hopeful. I still have a tissue in my pocket for the sudden sniffles.