Just because nobody uses the bathtub in the guest washroom doesn’t mean you need to fill it with chickens and ducks. But it’s a pretty good idea.
Dave and I hustled to the Tractor Supply Company when our neighbor John (who boards his horse at our place) said that we could get four free ducks if we bought 40 pounds of feed. Our collective thought: We can’t afford not to!
And while we’re at it, why not pick up a few chickens too?
So out to the store we went, and into the tub they went. And then they got messy. And then they got big and messy. It was soon apparent that bathtubs aren’t designed to house more that a single lame hen (#sylvia).
First the bedding began to cement together with baby bird poop and all the water they spilled. Then the chickens began to fly, just high enough to escape the tub and take over the entire room. The heat lamp made the tiny windowless space a sauna and amplified the stench of their collective little bird life. And it was getting more and more difficult to keep the cats out of there.
I have a higher tolerance for animal filth than Dave (#sylvia) so I was not surprised to come home from work one day to find that he had fashioned an alternative housing arrangement for our new feathered family members — out in the potting shed. At first I was a little sad to have them out of eye shot and ear shot, but it was for the best. Now they could scurry beneath metal shelves of old grass seed and clay pots, hunker down behind the rusty metal heads of various yard tools, and the chickens could roost along the rims of 5-gallon buckets. It was a bigger space and drafty enough to keep the air a little bit closer to fresh.
In mid-April the ducks were released from their nursery and joined their big sisters in the coop next door — 7 chickens and 1 old lady duck. And today they enjoy their daily aimless scamper across the lawn, nibbling on slugs they find along the way, and boring their cute little heads into the muck piles out near the barn in the sheep and goat stalls — an exploration of discovery into all sort of gross yet tasty treats.
The hens aren’t quite ready to join the rest of the integrated flock, but they are growing pretty fast. I think they actually like the presidential palace accommodations that they live in — it’s quiet, it’s clean and it smells so much better without ducks!