Murder Most Fowl

We have been hit by a crime wave.

The gardaí aren’t interested.

I am devastated.

Christmas time in Mr. Fairweather’s family means card games. Starting Christmas night itself at the family home, for several nights over the holidays we make our way to various siblings’ houses and cards are played into the wee hours of the morning. The Fairweathers are night owls. This has taken some adjustment on my part as I would have considered myself an early bird before meeting Mr. Fairweather. Slowly I have succumbed. I have had to. The cards don’t start till nine or ten o’clock. Last year, one of the nights finished up around quarter past nine in the morning when the nieces came down the stairs looking for breakfast (or so I am told). We didn’t make it to all this year. We aren’t hard-core card players. Besides, we have a toddler in tow now and she doesn’t know about lie-ins after late nights – not really anyway.

After one game in particular, we came back home late. With the weather the way it has been, I have been taking pity on the guard dog and letting her sleep in the house. Occasionally, I have had to turf her out in the middle of the night because of her snoring. But generally it has worked fine. This night however, I forgot that I hadn’t shut the ducks in before we left. We let them free-range during the day. Lately, they have been really good about either waiting at the guard dog’s kennel to be herded down to their pen, or else putting themselves into the pen on their own and waiting to be shut in. This night, they were waiting in the pen to be shut in and I clean forgot about them while trying to get the Little Paddler out of the car and in to the house without waking her. Out of sight, out of mind.

Not out of Mr. Fox’s sight and certainly not out of his mind. At half four in the morning, the guard dog erupted in the house. It sounded like she was going to go through one of the walls. I nearly fell out of the bed. I elbowed Mr. Fairweather in the bed and said, ‘Put her out before she wakes the baby up. It’s a fox.’ Out he stumbled and after half a minute, I heard the guard dog thundering off into the field and baying down in the woods. I fell back asleep.

The next morning the only thing on our minds was the waste water treatment system. We were getting it emptied for the second time in a week. When all was done, the three of us headed back to the house when Mr. Fairweather stopped in his tracks and said, ‘Oh no. Look.’

‘What? What?’ I was looking over at what will soon be our new house thinking what else could possibly go wrong?

‘Look. There.’

‘Where? What?’

‘The white and yellow thing on the ground.’

A duck’s head. And then I remembered last night. We started searching. I was sure I had seen ducks – well one – this morning. We eventually found one traumatised looking duck limping around. She wouldn’t let us anywhere near her. She wouldn’t even quack. We got her back in to the pen where she hunkered down in the duck house and hissed at anyone who went near her. Eventually she started to get out and about but is still quite jittery. During the day she is trying to make pals with the hens and come evening time, she cosies up to the guard dog. I reckon that letting the guard dog out when we did saved this last duck. The other three were not so lucky.

I’m quite upset. We killed Crispy No. 5 the week before Christmas and meant to get around to do the rest but with all the waste water treatment system problems, we just never got the time. At least I know that she died quickly and painlessly. Crispy Nos. 2-4 definitely did not. I don’t know if our one remaining duck is going to get over the shock. I don’t know if I will. But I do know that we are going to have to plan a bigger pen for the next lot of ducks so that they can remain secure with enough room to get their quack on.

on the road to recovery (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
on the road to recovery
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
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16 thoughts on “Murder Most Fowl

  1. Oh, there is nothing so sad as a duck all by itself. Last year I started out with five and I still had two in the spring of 2015, so I thought they had learned to protect themselves. Then I lost one more, and I felt so bad for the lonely duck. New baby ducks were in the stores and we got 7, and after a while the old duck fit in with them. I saw a fox go after them in the middle of the day, also a hawk and an owl! Right now we have 5 left and I count them about 20 times a day. Three of them are Khaki Campbells and they seem to have good self-preservation instincts.
    I may have told you all of this before — if so, sorry for repeating. 🙂

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    1. You hadn’t said it before. Good to hear. We had decided a while ago that when we do get more ducks, we’ll go for some Khaki Campbells. I’m told they are good middle of the road meat bird. Excellent egg layers too. Good to know they are survivors too.

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  2. Oh this just makes me so sad—and again—I couldn’t have them and care for them then eat them—I still must get my ducks in the frozen ball state ready for the roasting pan—now my husband who is a game hunter—does bring home the lone deer and or turkey—he takes the deer to be processed into ground meat, sausage, and roasts and the turkey he skins and I roast—but caring for then eating—I can’t—my hat is off to you–your’e a stronger woman than I—-and I am so sorry for the loss and now i fret for lonely crispy who is traumatized. We had a pet rabbit when our son was little–a black and white longhair lop—-she had a beautiful rabbit hutch that my husband had made for her. One day he got home before we did from school—a pack of wild dogs had attacked the hutch and tore there the thick wire and got to her—I was glad he got home first. To this day it breaks my heart—and I swore I’d never have any other rabbits—-oh nature can be so cruel and I tend to take it so personally—
    Here’s to keeping the foxes at bay!!!

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    1. Thanks Julie. Poor Crispy is trying to make friends with the hens who are deeply uninterested. The thing I tell myself is that at least when we kill them, I know it’s a swift death. Not this long drawn out agony with the fox. The foxes have been back. Think it’s a family of teenagers either desperately hungry or they know no fear. One hen gone. Crispy lives on to fight another day…..

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  3. Oh Fair Weather Paddler, Reading your Wednesday Blog just about made me cry. The poor ducks- I enjoyed watching them when there were 5 or 6 of them in the summertime! In time you will start over again and not just the ducks but also the bees!!

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  4. I am so sorry. I love ducks. We have coyotes in my area, and to coexist peacefully with them I had to roof over the chicken run, but I lost a whole flock of laying hens before I learned that. No question, the coyotes were here first, and I admire them, but I wish they weren’t such good climbers

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    1. Yes. The foxes were certainly here first and hopefully here after. And I know they have to eat. I just wish they didn’t like my restaurant so much. A friend of mine roofed in his hen run with chicken wire. The fox climbed up on top and chewed his way in. They are nothing if not determined.

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  5. So sorry to hear this 😔 – it is just awful. It does sound as if you have a good guard dog there though. Sending you a hug – would pop an alpaca in the post as well, but it probably isn’t a good idea 😁 – alpacas help keep foxes away – alpaca poo works too I think.

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  6. So sorry about your ducks, it’s heartbreaking isn’t it? I don’t know about alpaca poo, but human male urine is supposed to frighten foxes off….you could get Mr Fairweather to pee around the coop. BTW Mr Peasant is always very careful to turn off the electric fence before he does this;-{

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