Being Bitten in the Garden

Just a quick post to let you know how things are progressing in the garden – because things are all changing fast!

The six outside chicks are all doing well, and spend their days digging in the mud with mother hen, and snuggled underneath her in the nesting box at night. They regularly kick mud over their food and water, so it’s impossible to keep them clean. Whenever I go into the cage, the mother becomes very scary, and runs at me with her feathers all fluffed up, so cleaning out the water several times a day is less attractive than you might think. When I don’t back off, she gathers them all underneath her, and sits there, glaring at me. The chicks are unaffected, and like to come and see what I’m doing. I do hope they are not all cockerels.

The chick I helped to hatch didn’t survive. He lasted a few days, and we called him Gerald. The second day he was quite perky, and cheeped very loudly, but he never learnt to eat independently. Then I didn’t put the heat lamp on one night, because I thought it was warm enough, and in the morning he was very weak and very cold. I felt so guilty. He died a few hours later. That’s the trouble with animals—you don’t get many chances if you mess up.

The pond is looking pretty already, though needs some border plants to grow. The floating plant I bought, which I think is called a ‘water lettuce’ is doing well, and sending out shoots. The ducks are still caged (I’ll let them out soon, when I think the fox cabs have grown up and left) so the plants are all growing and not being eaten. Not sure how many will survive the ducks (none, I am guessing).

However, one thing that’s also growing well without the ducks to eat it, is mosquito larvae. The pond is crawling with them. Completely awful. I think every mosquito within a mile has been looking for water to lay in, and a nice new pond with no ducks seemed like a great place. We needed to get rid of them quickly, as once they develop into mosquitoes, they will be a right nuisance, and I don’t think we have enough bats in the nearby trees to eat them all.

We looked online for possible solutions, but they all seemed to be either chemicals that would hurt the ducks, or available only in the US, so wouldn’t arrive before the larvae develop. We decided to buy some fish. I am pretty sure the ducks will eat them, though the man in the shop assured us: “Ducks won’t touch them”. We shall see. At least they will eat lots of larvae before the ducks are released. It would be rather lovely if they do survive. We bought fairly small ones because (they were cheap) the bigger ones are more sensitive. This family doesn’t do very well with ‘sensitive’.

Thanks for reading. I’ll let you know how things develop.

Take care, and don’t get bitten.
Anne x

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