The two little hen ducks that I paid $5.00 for at the livestock auction (read previous post) were in sad shape. The first clue was how terrible they smelled. They were in cardboard box from the auction, and they made the car smell simply fowl, (pun intended!) When I got them home and put them in a cage for the night, I could see, as well as smell, how dirty they were. The next day, when I let them out of the cage and into the poultry yard the sun showed how the poor things were crusted in filth, and their feathers were all clumpy, dark and dingy. I filled two large water pans with warm water and stood back to watch them. My other ducks hop right in for a nice bath, but these poor girls didn't seem to know what to do with such riches. They dipped their heads, over and over, and splashed their chests a bit, but from their shoulders back they were still grimy.
You can see how clean and sleek the other ducks look in comparison. The new ducks feathers look wet, but they are not. Just very dirty.
Today I filled a larger container, about 3 feet long, with 10 gallons or so of lovely warm water. I hoped they would hop in and get a good all-over washing. I was busy working all day, but popped out to check on them on my lunch break. All the birds were milling around happily, scratching in the hay I scattered over the snow, snacking from the food pan and dabbling in the water bowls.
By this evening the little brown hen ducks looked much, MUCH better. They must have figured out how to get in the water. I wish I could have seen it, I bet they were happy things. Their feathers are rather tattered and sad looking, but much cleaner. When they moult and grow lovely new feathers they will look quite pretty.
I suspect these girls have spent their lives in a wire cage. The webs of their feet look sore and frayed. I doubt they had room to move or water to enjoy. That makes me sad. But it is a joy to see them explore their new world, fill their crops with good food and splash to their hearts delight in the water pans. At dusk they look awfully tired when they head into the duck house to snuggle in with the other ducks on clean shavings. When the snow is gone and they can meander over the pasture, and play in the little seasonal "pond" we have, it will be fun to see them love life at FairWinds!