"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Sunday, 2 March 2014


... and we fear the worst.

You recall my telling you back in September 2013 that we woke one morning to find that three ducks had appeared on our property out of the blue.  Well, they stayed. And stayed. And stayed.

They obviously liked it here.  And they liked us :)
Quack, Quacker and Quaker in action hunting
out insects in my capsicum patch
But, on Saturday 22nd February, we woke to find that only two ducks remained.  What happened to the third one we have no idea, but the three always stuck together like the Musketeers, so it couldn't have been a case of the one having wondered off.  There was no mass of feathers anywhere indicating that a fight with a predator had taken place, and the two weren't sticking to one spot - looking for the other one.

It was just gone.
The new duck enclosure with a pepper tree
in the centre which will provide them with
a modicum of safety and plenty of shade
as it grows.
In the past 6 months we have grown incredibly fond of them.  Their cheerful quack-quacking greeting us in the morning when we opened either the front patio or the back kitchen door, their hysterical waddling (with speed at meal times) and the general feeling of joie de vivre that they brought to us.

We are aware there are predators in the area - large owls, rooikat, otters, free roaming dogs and foxes - we saw one run across the highway right in front of the car on the way to town a couple of weeks ago.

But, because the ducks weren't ours, we didn't lock them up at night.

Until the one went missing.

That changed everything.

Suddenly, the remaining two are ours - 6 months worth of possession, feeding and general care-taking makes them so.  And, obviously the owner wasn't missing them...

And we don't want anything to happen to these two.

Every evening they had been waddling themselves off to the unfinished shadecloth veggie patch structure at the top of the garden, and burrowing under the weed guard which lined the floor, they put themselves to bed every night. But, it wasn't secure.  And that is exactly where we think the one was snatched from.

They tend to hang around the alpacas every day, so we constructed them an enclosure right next to the fence of Kris' paddock.
A straw-filled sleeping area, a water bowl filled
with fresh water, a drainage channel to
prevent the whole area flooding when next
we have heavy rain, and four protective walls -
our duck enclosure LOL
They now have a (albeit a bit rough and ready) covered area where they can sleep, a repurposed stainless steel sink for fresh water, and 4 walls (fences) around the perimeter to keep them safer.  We debated making a shadecloth roof, but decided for now that we wouldn't.
A handful of duck food got them inside on the
first evening
The ducks weren't keen to suddenly enter a restricted area, so a handful of duck food was the bribe.

The next morning they exited the enclosure with very muted quacks.  Not happy.  Not happy at all.  "Whaaaaaaaaat happened to our freedom? Don't 'cha humans know we're free range and free spirited...?"

But they were safe, and that's all that matters.
The recycled kitchen sink I had scored through
Freecycle was the perfect size for their
fresh water requirements.  I even placed some
bricks in one area - so that they could toddle
"upstairs" to get to the water.
And, instead of using the recycled sink for fresh drinking water, the idiots both climbed into it together and started paddling - round and round in circles.  I almost wet myself when I saw them at it.  But it gave me an idea...

Even though we have our beautiful large rainwater dam 'just down the drag' they had, previously, spent their days paddling in a pond full of unmentionable water - an overflow from our septic tank which had never been completed. RMan kept chucking a spoonful of chlorine in it every so often at night, but I have HATED that "pond" for far too long, and, finally, I could take no more. 

I put my foot down!

Last Monday we called out the cleansing department at the town council to drain the tank of it's revolting contents, and that means the "overflow pond" will now dry up and allow us access in order to add some pipe to create a proper underground soak away.
The bath needed a good clean to get rid of all
the soil it contained
We had removed the bath from the bathroom in our old Hout Bay house when we modernised it, and, after getting it here with the movers, I had buried the bath and was unsuccessfully growing (or should that be drowning) herbs in it. It was time to repurpose that again too.

It would make an ideal "pond" for the ducks.

As I want to be able to drain the bath when the water gets seriously foul (fowl?) and needs changing, we have installed it above ground, and have clad the outside with left over wood from the paddock fences in order to camouflage, as much as possible, the apparition that it is.

Because of the height above ground (as opposed to above sea level LOL) I have also provided them with a ramp to waddle up in order to access the water in the bath.

I was getting disheartened that they didn't like their new pond, and would never find it, and was even contemplating catching them with some bird netting in order to introduce them to it.

Then, one of the ducks had flew onto the shadecloth "umbrella" yesterday morning - obviously checking out the new territory.

But, it didn't enter the water.
Is that a duck in the water...?
When I walked out last night to feed the ducks and the alpacas their evening meal I saw something white on top of the water.  Success!!!  It had taken the ducks all of 5 days to discover their new, cleaner pond.  
... it is.  It is.
In fact it's two ducks in the bath.
found both of them happily ensconced within the bath.  The one was paddling in the open area, and the other one had it's head tucked under it's wing on the shadecloth side.  Contented ducks.
Waddle, waddle, waddle down the ramp.
Wait - I'm coming...
... don't forget to feed us too...
(in the foreground is the "pond" of
unmentionable water.  The ducks had spent
their days in the shade beneath the IBR sheeting.)
As I left the alpaca paddocks, the ducks proceeded to waddle down the ramp to get their evening meal too.
It just takes one to show the way, then
the other one followed ;)
Oh, it feels so bloody good!!

RMan reckons that they have the pool, and the (shadecloth) umbrella, now all they need is a cocktail or two - served "on the water" so to speak :)


Vicki said...

Kudos to you and RMan. Not many people would go to the trouble of creating an area where two ducks can not only live safely, but in comfort as well. They give so much pleasure by their antics, it is only right that they should be in a place where they will not become a predator's lunch.

Leigh said...

Well done. I think that's what stewardship is all about, creating a safe and happy environment for our critters. I have to say I really enjoyed all the photos.

1st Man said...

What a great post. Sad about the loss of one of course, but your pictures and the story of what all you did was awesome. I felt like I was there. You have given them a wonderful place to live and they will continue to reward you with their affection and companionship!

Dani said...

Leigh - And I find it hard that their "previous" owner hasn't enquired of anyone if they have seen his/her ducks.

He/she doesn't deserve the privilege of caring for animals in my book.

Dani said...

1st Man - I can HIGHLY recommend having a couple of ducks in your life :)

They have the ability to make you pause and smile even in the midst of an otherwise mood kind of day LOL

Mum said...

It's a real duck hotel. Happy ducky days!
Love from Mum

dreamer said...

Sorry you lost one of the ducks but it looks like the other two now have a lovely set up and a bit more safety too. I don't think ducks naturally like walking up steep ramps so well done on getting them to use their paddling pool - it must have been too much of a temptation for them :)

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

In permaculture people seem more fond of ducks than chickens? What is your take?

Anonymous said...

you have a wonderful life! When my daughter was a little girl she had ducks follow her around like she was the momma! Happy memories!

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

I'm so sorry one went missing! We have had ducks before and LOVED them. We got so attached to our two Khaki Campbells, in fact, that when they were killed by raccoons we couldn't bring ourselves to get new ones...too great was our loss.

How cool is that tub?!? Also, the fencing made out of those long, thin poles is beautiful - I love how that turned out. It's quite fetching! Well done!

Enjoy you're wonderful ducks. They are so fun to have around...

Dani said...

Vicki - If the ducks can compliment us by adopting us, then the least we can do is ensure their safety :)

They give us a smile each and every day...

Dani said...

Mum - Very Happy Ducky Days LOL

Dani said...

dreamer - LOL - I didn't get them to walk up the ramp - they did it all on their own... ;)

Dani said...

mohave rat - They follow RMan and I too, especially at mealtimes LOL

Dani said...

Lindsey - We are so enamoured with the two that we are going to get a couple more - they will, apparently, be ready in May... :)

Dani said...

TSAHG - RMan is definitely a duck man LOL

Dani said...

P.S. The fencing is made using alien Black Wattle :)

Harry Flashman said...

I would say the ducks are yours after so long a stay. I never thought of otters as predators. I knew they ate fish and shell fish, and crawdads but ducks? I'm glad none of those guys live in our stream!

I had a peacock show up here out of the blue. There are no homes in close proximity, and I can only think he was going somewhere and heard our chickens. He stayed about two weeks, and then left. I wasn't sorry to see him go because he pooped on my vehicles, but my wife was sad because she liked to watch him wander around in the evenings. We also had a little black banti chicken show up here, it just came out of the woods. It became my daughters favorite, and to this day we have occasional black chicks show up.

Dani said...

Harry - That's exactly what we finally concluded :) The otters have apparently killed a neighbours geese, but not eaten them. Perhaps they see them as (food) competition...?

Peacocks are very noisy, aren't they :) Love your chicky story, sounds like chick mum has told her family all about your daughter ;)