Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The good news and the bad news

Two bits of good news and bad some news around here today. 

First, the good news. My sewing machine  has returned to me after a hiatus at the repair shop. Nothing major wrong with it, fortunately. It just needed a service. The four years since its last service have just flown by, I guess! It is performing and behaving itself nicely, so I should  have something to show you from the sewing room shortly. 

The other bit of good news is that an article I wrote  about setting up your own vineyard has been accepted and will be published in an upcoming edition of Backyard Farmer, published by Earth Garden magazine. That should be some time in July. I'll let you know when to look out for it.

Sad and bad news, this time concerning our ducks.

Although I've posted photos on this blog recently, I  haven't written much about the animal life at our place on this blog yet. To fill you in, we keep chickens, ducks and sheep.

We keep our ducks in an enclosure with our chickens. They started out living on our fenced dam, but we lost two in quick succession to what we believe to be foxes. Note that the dam fence is very strong, and is topped by barbed wire. Anyway, that put paid to that idea, sadly, and we started to house them with the chickens, even though all the advice we have read is that this is a bad idea. We have found that it hasn't been too  bad though.

Our property backs onto forested council land which, despite baiting programs, is where the foxes live. Along with two ducks, over the years we have lost a couple of chickens and last year lost a new born lamb to foxes. It is always a distressing thing to lose any animal to foxes. It sure disabuses you of any notion of the benevolence of nature.

Knowing that  foxes are about, we keep the poultry enclosed for most of the day, letting them free range for an hour or two in the late afternoon. I would like to let them free range most of the time, but I don't think I would stop worrying about them.

Yesterday, I let the poultry and ducks out to free range at about 4pm. As sunset approaches the chooks will go inside to roost by themselves. The ducks, however, sit around outside, until Action Man shoos them into the enclosure and locks the door as darkness falls.

So yesterday at about 6pm, Action Man went out to do his duty. He came back inside a minute or two later, asking whether all the ducks were there when I let them out. Yes, I said, they were all there.

Action Man then told me he couldn't find two of the ducks, both males, an Indian Runner and a little grey duck of indeterminate type. He went out with the torch to find them, but came back about twenty minutes later, saying he couldn't find them anywhere.

This morning, the little grey duck was sitting outside the enclosure, waiting to be fed, I guess. No sign of the white male Indian Runner, but later we found a few white feathers with what looked like flesh clinging to the feather shaft, about 20 metres from our back door. You don't need to be a professional to surmise what happened.

It is so sad to think that while I was cooking dinner last night, our funny little duck was  in danger just a stone's throw away. So sad.

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