By Betsey Harper
I started off this year with 80+ chickens, 16 turkeys, 9 geese, 12 ducks, 27 guinea hens, and a pair of wild pheasants, before acquiring the Mills Pond fowl. Every bird is unique, named by my kids, and banded with birth year for record keeping purposes. They have grown up together as one flock.
Then I acquired the Mills Pond fowl and pecking order was disturbed. Here’s what I learned in the past months.
· The turkeys act like they are in charge; but the geese rule and when they don’t get their way, they are very, very loud complainers!
· Healthy Muscovy ducks lay eggs everywhere, protect like geese, and roost like Grackles in trees at night. If they didn’t scare me at least once a week, something is out of place.
· The Rouen and Runner ducks don’t really fly; love to eat snails, slugs, and the neighbors cow corn crop; are very messy; and, like to be muddy or dirty.
· The Mallards are not as domesticated as the others, and spend the day in the neighbor’s pond, but fly back every night before dusk.
· The chickens have become faster on their feet, good at dodging other fowl especially when running with a special treat.
· The geese don’t like any intruders; the ducks and guineas like to attack and play games with snake trespassers until they are dead; the same can be said for a turtle, several gophers and mice, and an unfortunate baby skunk.
· The geese and ducks love to listen to music and like to sing (squeak happily) when my son belts out a song. Some do a warble-thing which we suppose is dancing!
In all, the fowl have adjusted well and are happy and healthy. They no longer fight me on wing or toenail trimming days and I’ve assumed the role of their leader. We even have several communal nests that are shared. The sun was shining on the eggs when I took this picture, which helps keep them warm so the birds can leave for a short time. The very large white eggs are goose eggs; the more hidden egg is a duck egg; and the darker ones are chicken eggs. I’m sure there are more nests we can’t find, especially ducks nests; I’ve learned they like to hide their eggs and babies too.
What do I like best? There is nothing better than after a long hard day at work, having 200+ cheerful and excited little feathered friends rushing to see me. They really do have individual personalities and I treasure them all.