Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fox in the Duck House

This is our vegetable garden under the first snow of the season, in early November.

Well, my last duck is gone. Hubby went out on Tuesday morning and found...nothing. We're assuming it was a fox.

After the first attack we fortified all around the pen with small sheets of 1/4" plywood, weighed down with logs from the woodpile, and a piece of fencing. We figured whatever it was couldn't dig under all of that again. We missed a small foot-wide area where the plastic kiddie pool sits inside the pen, figuring the attacker couldn't fit between the fence and the pool if he dug under there. Wrong. That's where he got in. It wasn't a big hole, so we're even more certain it was a fox, rather than a dog. Kind of amazing he got the duck through that hole, actually. We also think a dog, stray or otherwise, would have made more noise. Once again none of us, including our poodle, heard anything from inside the house. Aside from some small dog-like prints in the fresh dirt, there's no other proof.

It's sad to think of my pretty black Cayuga drake getting dragged off by a fox. He must have been scared. But I'm more ok with the thought it was a fox, rather than a dog. After all, the fox has to eat, just like any other honest predator. It would be more annoying if it were a loose dog with no urgent reason to take a duck, other than amusement. Especially since a dog would be fed regularly.

Out of the six ducklings we brought home in May 2006, we got two for meat. The females were good layers at least. We had to give away some of the eggs during the summers, since we couldn't keep up with eggs from five chickens and two ducks. So, I guess we got some value out of them.

Next year I'm hoping to get some rare breed chickens, Wyandottes and Polish, if it works out. I want some Guinea fowl as well. We'll have to do some preparation though. The two species can get along ok in the same large pen where we keep the chickens now, but I want to make some changes in there to protect them from foxes. Guinea fowl will roost in trees, but they have to learn their territory first. And to do that, I've read, you need to keep them cooped at night for about 6-8 weeks after you get them. It may be that we have to put the coop on stilts or something. We'll have to think about it.

Other than that, it's been a good weekend. We went to a local St. Andrews dinner on Friday, and then to an early Christmas party on Saturday night. Today we took my step-son out to do porcelain painting. I've only done that once before. It's fun enough, but I've never found that my pieces turn out as good as I think they will. He enjoys it though, so that's ok.

We're hoping for some snow tonight. They've predicted a foot of snow tonight in the mountains nearby, so the ski areas will be happy. But I'd like a little bit here too.

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