Raising ducks: 3–4 months

The ducks have completed their second molt, so they have their full coat of adult feathers. The new feathers look just like the old ones, but there are more of them: the ducks have finished growing now.

They are making good use of the new feathers, flying beautifully—a little too beautifully, in fact. They routinely get three to four feet off the ground and fly twenty to thirty feet, and Patsy and Sybil have each attained an altitude of six feet, which is more than enough to clear our fence. None of them has shown any inclination to fly near the fence, which is nearly surrounded by trees and the house; they all stick to the open area in the middle of the yard. But we don’t want anybody escaping, so if they keep it up we will have to clip their wings. And we really, really don’t want to clip their wings, because they clearly enjoy flying; it’s the first thing they do when we let them out in the morning and the evening. And we enjoy watching them fly.

Kathy has exploited their new abilities—and their love of cherry tomatoes—to teach Saffy to jump for food. Kathy holds a half a cherry tomato about waist high, and Saffy flaps her wings just enough to get off the ground and snag it. The others won’t take the trouble, but Saffy will do almost anything for food.

Meanwhile, we are waiting for them to start laying eggs. It will make the daily routine—herding them out to the grazing pen in the morning, feeding and watering, changing the water in the baby pool, and herding them back into their night pen in the evening—a bit more pleasant.

We have also cleared up a few of the summer’s mysteries. Sybil has her adult coat and is clearly female. She is also rather stupid. At least once a week, she manages to miss the gate to the grazing pen and run around the side. When she first started causing trouble we were able to catch her, but now that she can fly she’s nearly impossible to catch. So when she splits off on her own, we have to let all of them back out of the pen, give them a few seconds to regroup, and herd them all back in. If I return in my next life as a border collie, I’ll be all set.

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