When we only had a few animals it was easy to keep track of numbers. In the last year or so as the quantity has both increased and fluctuated – births, deaths, holidays, sales – I’ve become less attentive to absolute numbers. Today I decided to remedy that, so I counted them all.
The official roll call as at the end of September 2011 is:
2 cows (Wrath and Avarice)
2 Alpacas (Verdigris and Algy)
5 goats: 2 Angora (Boris and Bertie), 2 pygmy (Ishy and Moby) and 1 other (Howard)
20 pigs: 1 boar (Sir Humphrey), 4 sows (Bernard, Hacker, Snowball and Hacker) and 15 others ranging from 4 week old piglets, to some near adults who are soon to go on holiday
67 sheep: 12 OAPs (though technically three of them are lambs), 6 Borerays (Haan, Duchess, Leelou, Leia and the two castrated boys), 1 Soay ram (Muga), 48 others (including White Face, Mouton, Lafite, Luke, Lamby and 35 of this years lambs)
7 Cayuga ducks
For a grand total of 111 farm animals! We once peaked at 150 animals, so really we’re doing well on our reduction plan. By the end of the year I think this should be down to around 80, which shouldn’t be too tough over the winter.
We have a small flock (sord, or safe apparently is a better collective noun according to wikipedia) of ducks, which are probably Cayugas. I say probably as I bought the original eggs a couple of years ago on eBay based on the picture, but with no details of the breed. Two hatched and survived and they had three more last year. They seem a happy little paddling on the pond and we were quite happy with them.
Earlier this year we seem to have lost some of them as we only saw two or three at any one time. We feared that Mr Fox had been at work, but then occasionally we’d see a fourth so we deduced something else was going on. The area the ducks living in has a pond and some fruit trees, and about a quarter of it is a nettle bed of some ferocity. It appeared that they were living under the nettles, and perhaps nesting.
Towards the end of July I was out feeding the ducks when I heard a lot of cheaping, and suddenly spied a whole raft of little ducklings on the pond. I counted fourteen of them! I fed the ducks as normal and the mummy duck had her fill of food, but the ducklings stayed back. Each day I’d check and feed them and they seemed to be ok until two days later when I noticed a couple of small duckling bodies next to the pond. They were dead but it wasnt obvious what had odne for them. Sadly over the next two days they all died. Our vet said that at some times of the year it could be caused by a lack of insects, but given how many were about it seemed unlikely.
As well as losing the ducklings we still only had four ducks. About a week later the remaining mummy duck appeared, trailed by threee ducklings. Thinking about what the vet had said we got some chick feed in (which is basically just ground up chicken pellets with a higher cost…) and made sure to put loads out for them. The ducklings seemed to do well for the next few days, and then one of htem went missing. I couldnt find it and was worried that the others would follow it, but they were made of sterner stuff.
Nearly two months later and they’re starting to lose their down feathers:
Their adult feathers have a lovely green/blue sheen to them. Nice to see them growing up!