Just Ducky

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Six days later … and I’ve been able to lift my head from moving snow. It’s not all cleared – not nearly – but the flerd and I can get to where we need to go. Enough so that I was able to make a run for some straw bales. The round bales have not been working out quite as I had planned. They disintegrate too quickly once I untie them … which has led to a good one foot base of frozen straw under the tarp shelter. That is great for the jennies and goats on sunny days. They snuggle into the bed of it all and are warm and toasty. But I waste much more than ever makes it to the duck house or the coops or the jenny’s barn.

The Duck House has been a focus of mine this week. With the days and nights being so darned frigid this past while (felt like -43’C yesterday morning!) I relented and was putting their water bowls INTO their house. They needed to be able to eat and drink without going out into the four foot drifts in their run … which sits oh so conveniently to the NORTH of their house. That meant their straw bed turned into an ice-packed rock-hard mess. (Hence the straw scattered in the paddock.)

Time for Plan B. I had been feeling bad that they didn’t get much sun in a day. The paddock directly out their west wall (with the people door) gets great sunshine. What I wanted was to create a way for them to be able to ‘pop out’ into the paddock for the winter. That required some thinking …

I had built a ‘landing’ into their barn so that I could open the barn doors but have the ducks screened in for safety. In the summer that openness was essential to keep them cool enough in heat waves. That area could hold their water bowls – which have to be plugged in for the winter… The ‘landing’ area would work IF I kept it blocked off from curious goats … (as we do have two very curious goats). Phase one has taken me a few days of mulling over to ensure it will be useful come spring. I have a feeling I might need to separate the drakes from the hens to give everyone a ‘rest’ from their young hormones! By putting the pop door on the south side I can divide the sleeping room into two. Not now. IF I need to in the spring. Then the drakes could access the side run. The hens could pop into the paddock. But that is months away …

The system would need to allow me to still close the barn doors if needed on winter nights or blizzard days. The dog panels that I bought last year worked out perfectly. They sit snuggly just inside the doors – braced with one-by-twos. For now I’m using these two panels. Once the ducks get used to the other critters – and vice versa – then I will swap out one of these for the panel with the ‘doggie gate’ in it. If I install it upside down AND shorten its height with the lower brace you see above that might keep the goats out. And THAT would be a very satisfactory winter solution!

I’m mulling over one more idea … IF I cut two good sized vents into the barn doors … then I could close those doors – keep the pop doors open – and not have to worry about too much moisture building up overnight. (Or over a very cold blustery winter day.) The trick is to have the vents allow air flow … but not snow build up. Hmmm … that would be NEXT week’s project. 😉

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