My adventures in the duck house

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mlp

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I am currently medicating Dagwood twice a day. In lieu of trying to chase him down while all the ducks are outside and stressing him that way, I have been crawling into the duck house after I put them to bed at dusk, and then again in the morning before I let them out.

Now, the duck house is 8' x4', but has a low, sloping roof, and I have to lower my butt to get through the door on my hands and knees. Not a terribly graceful or dignified exercise at the best of times.
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The door has an upper and lower latch. When I get in, I pull it closed behind me, being extra careful to do it completely in the evening - I don't want any duck(s) who might get past me to get back out in the dark.

So, last night, I had emptied the syringe into Dagwood's beak, backed up, and the door didn't open to the push of my feet. I turned over, sat on my butt, and pushed harder. The top yielded, the bottom didn't.

That's when I realized that the hasp on the bottom must have flipped over and onto the staple portion of the latch. That bottom latch is a tricky one, and I usually have to manipulate it just so to lock it - that that one would close on its own is sort of a miracle in reverse.

So I sat there, hunched over in the duck house like an aged Gretel imprisoned by the witch, and c.contemplated my options while the ducks muttered in the corner. Call the neighbor a mile down the road and ask him to come down and free me? Kick the door down and spend half the night re-securing the duck house? I chose the former - fortunately I am blessed with a freakishly high embarrassment threshold.
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KLS52

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Oh my...I'm trying not to chuckle but I'm sure you don't mind otherwise you wouldn't have posted about it! :)
Can I assume you had your cell phone with you and that's how you called the neighbor? I'm conjuring up the image of a payphone in the duckhouse, lol.
 
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Pickle Juice

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Yeah I'd be in trouble if I got stuck in a duck house because I have no cell phone signal out here. I do have a wireless house phone though, which I do remember to take with me if I go up on the roof, in case I fall off and have to call emergency.
 

sallyomally

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Having this mental image of you all scrunched in the corner with your phone and the ducks staring at you and saying to each other,"The human is acting rather strangely ..."
 
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mlp

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Your image links are all broken. I'm glad you got out of the duck house though.

Yeah, it's a real shame that there are no photos of the event. :cool:

Oh my...I'm trying not to chuckle but I'm sure you don't mind otherwise you wouldn't have posted about it! :)
Can I assume you had your cell phone with you and that's how you called the neighbor? I'm conjuring up the image of a payphone in the duckhouse, lol.

On no, not a payphone, just a regular phone. The ducks wouldn't be able to get coins into a pay phone slot. As a matter of fact, they don't generally bother carrying change.
 
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mlp

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He had surgery yesterday at the U of I veterinary hospital and came through that fine, but he's going to need special care for the rest of his life - I have to figure out adjustments to make for him.

Last Wednesday evening I was by the duck pond when I happened to get a good look at Dagwood's feet. He had come within five or six feet of me, and was standing on a smooth surface - a bit of the pond liner, and facing me. I noticed that his right foot looked odd. As he turned and walked away from me, I put my face down on the ground so I could see his foot from ground level, and it looked as though he had a clump of something attached to the sole of his foot. I didn't bother to try to catch him after I got them all into the duck house for the night - I knew it was time for a vet visit, and no point in stressing him unnecessarily.
Thursday morning, as soon as the clinic opened, I called the U of I to make an appointment for him. The earliest Dr. W., my avian vet, could see him is Tuesday morning. I told them I was sure some kind of surgical intervention would be necessary. I wanted to start him on antibiotics right away, but they couldn't prescribe any for me, since they had not seen him before.

So Thursday afternoon I managed to get him into the vet twenty minutes away, who treated him after the weasel attack. Dagwood had a large growth on the sole of his right foot. He was on twice daily antibiotics, hence the duck house adventure.

Dagwood hasn't been limping or walking funny, probably because duck feet have practically no nerves. (How they walk is something I take note of daily.) When he was standing on the hard surface of the examining table, the problem with his foot was quite evident. In the grass, and on the bedding of the duck house, it's not evident, because the mass kind of sinks into the softer surfaces, allowing his foot to spread out fairly normally above it.

I think we figured out what has caused this. Dr. W said it looked as though he has been spending too much time on his feet. I said yes, I had noticed that he wasn't spending nearly as much time in the pond as the other ducks this year. Dr. W said that, from his feathers, he thinks that Dagwood is having difficulty reaching his preening gland and getting the preening oil distributed throughout his feathers as a result of the neck injuries inflicted by the weasel/mink. That means it takes more effort for him to be in the water for any length of time, and the water doesn't feel as good to him.

And then I undoubtedly made the situation worse - all spring and through the early part of the summer (before I started worrying that the well might run dry because of the drought), I had been running the hose into a low part of the garden next to the pond to make a marshy area for the ducks, because they so love dabbling in the mud. I had actually done that because I had noticed Dagwood not spending much time in the pond, and I wanted him to have fun.

The end result of that was that, for all the hours Dagwood spent dabbling in the mud, his feet were wet but they were still having to bear all his weight - basically, the most unhealthy scenario for his feet. As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So, after recovery from surgery, it will be a matter of long term maintenance. I asked Dr. W whether there is anything I can do to work a preening oil substitute into his feathers. He said he doesn't know of any substitute, or any way of working it in if there were a substitute, which would adequately mimic preening.

So, I will have to figure out ways to keep him on the softest possible surfaces when he's not in the pond, ways to keep him off his feet as much as possible, and research oils/lotions I can rub into his legs and feet to keep his legs and feet as conditioned as possible.

And of course, Pekins have been bred for thousands of years to be meat and egg producing ducks, so their poor legs and feet have heavy work under the best of circumstances.

He spent last night in the hospital. I'm waiting to hear when I can pick him up.
 

KLS52

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Wow...I don't know how you do it! Dagwood is lucky to have you looking after him, as are all of the other critters you care for. :)