Friday, November 30, 2007

Duck in the Headlights

When Berna chased the bantams, the Muscovies were with them. The ducks flew off as Berna ran down the hill. When I finally left for work, I noticed a duck across the county road from my lane. A very shell-shocked duck, looking just like a deer caught in the headlights at night. I pulled into the closest driveway and walked back up to her, talking softly and encouraging her to cross the road and head up to our lane. She did seem to know who I was, and slowly - very slowly - headed in the right direction. Once I got her on the gravel lane she took off flying about 2 feet above the road. Assuming she could find her way from there, I went on to work.

The next morning I realized that only 2 Muscovies were lined up for food. The third must of flown out of her known territory fleeing Berna. Sadly I counted her as gone. The other two wandered around aimlessly for 2 days, obviously missing their friend.

This morning as I was feeding the sheep I heard the susurration of happy ducks. I turned to see three Muscovies doing their greeting dance. They then Egyptian line danced to the next kiddie pool, formed a new circle, and chattered some more. Tails flaired, crests up, and heads moving back and forth they made a happy trio. I'm so glad to have them all home.

Berna in the morning

Berna is my house guardian. She has this job because her prey drive is too strong for guarding poultry. Ursa, who spent the summer as an outside dog, has decided that 13-year-old bones do better in the warm, dry house. She still needs to patrol the front yard and upper bird pasture regularly, however.

I was headed out to do the morning feeding, and Ursa wanted to come along. Unfortunately she takes much longer to get up and moving than Berna. Bear took one look at the open front door and went from flat on her side snoozing to loping down the stairs in about half a second. First she chased all the bantams back into what was once a dog yard, and then dashed down the hill to see who else was chaseable.

For the next 10 minutes she ran after chickens and I ran after her. Then she ran down a rooster, grabbed him by the wing right at the shoulder, and took off. She pranced all around the woods, the buildings, up and down the hill, holding a bird bigger than her head. Finally her hearing returned, and she heard me suggesting we go back in the house. She looked at me - dazed bird in mouth - suspecting a trap, but thought her house was the perfect place to further examine this full-grown rooster prize. She trotted up the stairs and waited for me at the door.

I grabbed her collar, gave the "drop it" command, and with a little prompting she released the rooster. He took that opportunity to disappear, and appeared to be uninjured. Berna got lots of praise and some really good treats in trade. I got 20 minutes of serious aerobic exercise.

While the "come" command obviously needs a lot of work, I was pleased that "inside" and "drop it" were both (eventually) recognized and obeyed. I am also pleased that Berna, while loving the chase, doesn't seem inclined to actually hurt the birds she runs down. But I don't think she's in danger of a job description change any time soon.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tree Shadow

This sunrise was so interesting, because it looks like the tree is casting a shadow on the sky. Lovely mornings seem to follow stormy ones. 

Wind, Wind and More Wind

I woke at 5:30 to the sound of wind and metal. Hmm, metal bending isn't a good sound. The predicted storm arrived a bit early down my way, and had done its damage while the radio was still predicting "worst winds at 10." It's still blowing, but not as hard as this morning. The only thing on my hill with a roof is my house.

The left shelter is where my bantams and geese spend the night. The carport was Charlie's favorite shelter, and the poultry all hung out there on rainy days.

Poor Millie was inside this kennel when the roof came down. She was very happy to see me and go for a walk. Agile girl thankfully wasn't hurt, but she was eager to be gone. She's now in the smaller kennel by my bird building. That area is somewhat protected and is so far undamaged.

This quonset sheltered Jesse's day crate and the cusions he and Ursa love to use during the day. Note Charlie still on guard in spite of wind and rain.

Jesse doesn't care that the shelter's gone. It's his place and he's using it. He must realize it's raining, but you couldn't tell from his attitude.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Visiting Ducks

The Muscovies have discovered the upper pasture and house. They now come up each morning, test all the water, eat bugs and slugs, then fly on the roof so they can soar back down to the bird area. They also particularly like this stump.