John Jackman

The Search For Peas

The Search For Peas

Supply chain issues! First it was toilet paper. Next it was baby formula. Now it’s green peas!

We learned early on that ducks love green peas – no, that’s too mild. They ADORE green peas. It’s like crack for ducks. They will waddle over burning coals to get peas. So it became part of our routine each evening to bring a pound of peas out as their treat as we put them away in their pen. They are pretty good about coming home as it gets dark, but once in a while one of theme will be off down the creek looking for worms, and won’t come – until they hear the call, “Anyone want some peas?” Then they come quacking.

And they can be picky! One duck would only eat whole peas – she would spit out half peas or pea skins. We named her “Marie,” after Marie Antoinette. W e soon found that Food Lion peas were the best, and the price was right.  Once a week I’d stop there and buy four 2-pound bags.  Once in a while the checkout person would raise an eyebrow and say, “Boy, you really like peas!”  I figure that over the years we have gone through a little more than two tons of peas.  Two TONS.  No joke!

Empty freezer shelf at Walmart!

The Tragic Pea Shortage

But lately we’ve had a hard time finding these green globes of deliciousness! Week after week, I would make my regular stop at Food Lion to buy four two-pound bags for the week – and they wouldn’t have any! The freezer shelf would be empty. I spoke to the manager, who said “Well, I guess they didn’t have any on the truck.” Another shrugged his shoulders: “Supply chain issues!”

So I’d have to scramble and go to Lowes’ Foods, and generally they’d have them. All was fine – until last month, when a sign showed up on their freezer shelf: “Item temporarily out of stock.” I jumped in the Jag and drove five miles to Harris Teeter. You know what happened next! No peas there, either. The final straw came last week when there were no peas at Walmart! WALMART was out of peas! Supply chain issues had completely disrupted my babies’ favorite evening snack!

Carrots left on the bottom of the duck pool.

The Carrot Experiment

What was odd is that all the stores had frozen peas and carrots. So I though maybe the ducks would go for that. After all, even Forrest Gump thought they went together.   No such luck. They would snarf down the mixture, swallow the peas, and every carrot would fall out of the side of their beaks. Every. Single. Carrot. I don’t know how they do it.  Pretty sure that every pea was swallowed, but not a single cube of carrot.

So the ducks had to make do with mealworms, their second favorite thing, or cat kibble, their third favorite thing. I know, get out the tiny violins. They still have it better than 99.9% of ducks anywhere, spoiled silly. But I wanted to take care of our duckies, so The Search for Peas continued.

I found some! Aldi had tiny bags (12 oz) and I found that Super Compare, a local Latino grocery chain, had two pound bags frozen peas. So we’ve found a supply! But don’t hold your breath — we’ll see how long that lasts.

The Ultimate First World Problem

Isn’t this the ultimate First World Problem? “I can’t find my spoiled pet’s favorite snack!” Whine, whine. Meanwhile people starve in Somalia, are bombed by Russian rockets in Ukraine, and go homeless and hungry right here in Forsyth County.

But here at Duck Manor, I want to take care of the babies!

The current Duck Squad: Marie, Esther, Annie, Groose, Vegita, and Sybil.

Posted by John Jackman
Sad News – RIP Albert

Sad News – RIP Albert

Sad to announce that we had another fox attack today. Albert Einstein was killed and Harriet was wounded — her left wing is either broken or dislocated. She is going to the vet tomorrow morning for treatment.

Albert was the last connected to the “original four” that are featured in our books. We know he was sired by Sheik Tyto, and Miss Piggy hatched and raise him — but we don’t really know which duck laid the egg, since the super-mom Piggy collected everyone’s eggs and sat on them. Albert was a big, gorgeous drake who was a dumb as a bag of hammers – that’s how he came by his name. Debbie kept saying, “No, over here, Albert Einstein!” when he would miss the entrance to the coop — and the name stuck. He loved standing on things like bricks to be a little taller.

Because he had been raised exclusively by Miss Piggy (and did not “imprint” on Abigail), he had no confusion about being part of the human flock.  He was a duck, period.  As a result he was a bit harder to deal with than the others when he had to be medicated, etc.

Posted by John Jackman

The Curse of Bumblefoot

Wow, we’ve had quite a summer. In late June, we noticed that Sybil was limping — and it turned out she had some really horrid sores on the bottom of her foot. It’s a staph infection, technically known as ulcerative pododermatitis, but commonly called “bumblefoot.” Chickens, ducks, guinea pigs and rabbits can get it — though for bunnies it’s called “sore hocks.” It can start a number of ways, most commonly a minor injury, or in ducks when the skin on the foot is too dry and starts to crack, letting the staph bacteria into the injury.  It quickly spread to several other ducks.

Treatment is pretty yucky, most people let the vet do it, but we got to be pretty good at it.  First, the foot has to be soaked in warm water and epsom salts.  The infected area has to be opened up and inside there will be a chunk of calcified bacteria –almost like a little stone.  That has to be removed, and then both oral and topical antibiotics applied, and the foot bandaged.  The logistics of bandaging a webbed foot are really complicated!  But we mastered it — vet wrap is wonderful stuff!  Probiotics in the water help build the immune system — and counteract the diarrhea that the oral antibiotics cause.

Of course, the problem is that ducks are always wading around in mud and their own poo.  So the most affected ducks who needed  bandages had to be isolated in a kennel with wood chips.  As flock creatures, they were getting really tired of being alone a good part of the day while the other slopped around in the mud.

The good news is that as October begins, we’re finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel!  Sybil still has a limp, some scar tissue, and a swollen ankle.  She’s on an oral antiinflammatory which is helping — but the sores are now completely closed and healed up.  Harriet, the other duck that was most affected, is healing up and soon the scabs on her sores will come off completely.

This is where we always want to warn people who flirt with buying a couple of ducks.  This can be an incredible amount of work!  For three months, we’ve spent about an hour every night soaking, medicating, and wrapping webbed feet!

Harriet sports her stylish neoprene duck bootie, which helps keep the wounds protected and keeps the medication on.

Posted by John Jackman