I wrote about the fox-orchestrated devastation at Dreamland a while ago, and since then we had another fox decimation one night because someone was too tired and forgot to close the coop…. So Sunny, our Light Sussex big-boy rooster, who somehow survived all these ordeals, was left with two very young Lavender Sussex hens. So, it was time to replenish the troops.
Right about the same time my daughter, who has always had a big duck fascination – in fact, she hand-reared our batch of Cayuga ducks – got it in her crazy little mind that she wanted a whole menagerie of different duck hens. We spent evening after evening perusing and prioritising ducks breeds and eventually even checked the availability in our area.
Somehow the precious and individually named Cayugas lost in the popularity polls…. And besides, we misread the first home-brewed batch and were stuck with 5 drakes and 2 hens. And the tipping point was, one day the one Cayuga hen just disappeared. They have a habit of laying under the bushes near the pond, but we searched everywhere and everywhere again and again, but just never found her or any remains…. I guess some semi-local fox, or some big bird of prey, must have caught her, took her to their liar or nest and she had to play her role in the circle of life. Anyway, some guy who took our whole brood of Cayugas before said his father-in-law would gladly take the 4 Cayuga drakes, so one rainy Saturday afternoon I travelled solo miles and miles and had a good long chat with the interesting old man, until we got drenched out, to give our batch of excess drakes a good home.
The next day my daughter and I set off to Michelle’s farm in Drysdale, 40 minutes in the other direction. The one moment you think you’re still in suburbia, the next moment you take this little dirt track in-between the houses and you end up in a very rural poultry heaven, where you don’t hear or see houses or cars, just chooks, ducks, ponds, sheep, more chooks, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, more ponds and who knows whatever else. It’s literally fowl-haven out there. Michelle and her husband are really clued up about keeping and breeding various fowl. She actually managed to breed the most beautiful pure black Indian Runners – which I fortunately convinced my daughter to put on her wish list. So, we left Michelle’s place with two Indian Runner hens, 2 Light Sussex pullets, 3 Coronation Sussex pullets and one speckled Sussex pullet to join the 2 Lavender Sussex pullets we still had with Sunny.
It’s quite ironic… the intention was to get a menagerie of duck hens and a single breed of Sussex chickens. Instead we ended up with an all-sorts of Sussexes and 2 pure black Indian Runners to join the two pretty much mostly black Cayuga ducks! Fortunately the daughter’s wish for more duck hens have been quenched – the reality is that our little pond can’t realistically take more than 4.
I’m happy to report that the young little pullets have all started laying. One of the lavenders is even sitting on a brood of eggs. It will be interesting to see if we get light lavender Sussexes…. Anyway, Sunny, who has always hated my guts, is now even more protective and agro towards me, but fortunately not towards the rest of the family.