Flooding — never fun. Unless of course you’re a duck.
And when I woke up this morning on the homestead and looked outside, my eyes were met with a sight that it took me a few minutes to comprehend. My ducks were at the neighbor’s house. And they hadn’t walked there. They SWAM over.
I knew last night we’d gotten a good bit of rain. It was a storm with heavy rains, and there were four separate flood warnings from the NWS, flash floods, river flooding, and more. But I still wasn’t prepared for how bad it was.
It looked like I should have built an ark! I put on my boots and sloshed outside to check the livestock, especially the geese that have been setting so faithfully. They were still setting but agitated. They were JUST above the water line. The duck that has been setting so well wasn’t as fortunate. She was still setting tight, but her nest was underwater, and she was upset as well. Poor girl, she’s such a trooper to keep on those eggs even in the flooding. All three of them have won a permanent spot here on the homestead, no matter what.
Fortunately I have a pump, so I set it to send the water near the front duck/goose pen toward the road. The main flock of geese are on a concrete floor, so they were ok. Aware of possible flooding problems, we built the chicken coop up almost a foot on the highest area, so it was fine too. But the goat shed wasn’t so dry. I hate having the flooding bring in muckiness with goat kids out there. That had to be cleaned up. And inside the goat shed, just yesterday, one of the muscovies finally made a beautifully shaped nest and gathered all her eggs into it. They were sitting half submerged in seeped-in water. I added more hay to the nest, raising it up to a dry level, but I’m not sure the eggs can survive. She hadn’t started setting yet, but I’d say she’ll be ready to in a few days at most. I may put someone else’s eggs under her just so she doesn’t waste her time. But for now I put them back into the nest. The other muscovy due to hatch soon is setting in the chicken coop, so her nest is the only one that wasn’t compromised by the flooding.
One of the buff orpington hens was MAD!!! I heard her fussing up a storm and I went to find out why. The flooding covered half the rabbit yard and stretched completely around the front of the coop, so the chickens had to walk through water to get in and out of the door. They didn’t mind it coming out. I guess being outside was reward enough. But going back in was another matter. She wanted that water GONE. I had to laugh, because I’ve never heard her use that tone before! I did clear the draining path and make sure it was running off as fast as possible. By evening they at least had a clear path on solid ground to the door. I did leave all the younger chicks locked in their nests today though. Most likely they would have drowned if they had ventured out.
My goat kids have more sense that I gave them credit for. I had a friend who raised goats who had told me horror stories of them falling into the pond constantly and drowning. Normally I don’t have a pond out there (and I drained the pasture goose pools when the goat kids were released into the pasture) but today … The flooding gave me not only a pond, but a small running river. Miss Amelia went to the lower part of the pasture where she likes to browse and called her kids to her. She stood so that they could have walked across on a muddy stick-littered area and not have to actually go in the water … but they refused to cross. “Sorry, Mom, we’ll just hang out on this side!” they seemed to tell her. She was upset, but I was kind of glad to see the kids wanted nowhere near the water. (They did eventually scoot across sometime though, because I saw them with the big goats on the lower end of the pasture later in the day.)
Mysti the llama enjoyed sloshing through the depths of the flooded pasture. I think most llamas love being in water, and she is no exception. She usually claims an area right next to a goose pool on summer days, dipping her neck and head into it periodically. She was only upset that the hay in the feeder was wet.
And the hay wasn’t in bad shape. The dropped hay was wet, but the bale is in good shape. Normally they are stored on the roll side, but I put this one on end on the highest ground I could find, and covered it with a tarp, so that I can pull hay off the round sides and feed it a little every day. It held up beautifully, and the flooding didn’t reach that area, so I am most grateful.
By now the ducks had ventured FAR from home. They were enjoying the whole mess. If there’s water, they are at home in it, so they just kept going. They had gone through the neighbor’s yard, into a nearby cow pasture, and were heading into the distance. I’ve seen coyotes in that pasture, and I called them back, but they refused to come. I still had too much damage control to do, so I left them to wander and kept at it.
Then I saw that something had happened to the goose nest. Poor girls, they’ve sat SO faithfully for so long. The eggs were almost due to hatch. But suddenly there are two broken eggs? And they have left the nest. The eggs are rotten. I think what happened is that the eggs were never fertile, and maybe the changes in temperature with the rain and all has made them pop. The girls have never left the nest for more than a few minutes in all this time. Their instincts are perfect. But now I can’t get them to go back to the nest, even after cleaning it out. The best setter went back and stood on the eggs, moved them around, looked at them carefully, but she wouldn’t settle on them.
They did seem interested in a nest some ducks were building nearby. I brought them a good supply of fresh hay and sticks, and they actually seem like they may be thinking about building another nest. I may give them someone else’s eggs if they set, since their gander may not be doing the job yet. They are all so young, last July’s hatch, and I’m amazed the girls are setting so well. I really hadn’t expected goslings from them this year anyway. My other silly geese in the main flock are just laying eggs and kicking them around, refusing to set, so these baby girls may replace my main flock next year if this keeps up. They certainly have better instincts, and they are much nicer in body as well.
Finally as it was getting dark, the ducks returned. I was just getting ready to close the pen and thinking they were gone far, far into the cow pasture, but there they came, quacking along. They had a fine day today. Flooding is like a duck amusement park. I’m glad SOMEONE enjoyed the day, LOL. I’m hoping for a better one tomorrow.
And it’s not all bad — my blueberries, blackberries, and grapes look AMAZING!