Today I was able to get some much better photos of the ducklings. Above is a Welsh Harlequin. I think this little fellow is a male. Supposedly you can tell at this age by beak color for this breed. The males have a dark black bill. This guy does. So do 3 of the other Welsh Harlequins.
This is another Welsh Harlequin, this one with a much lighter bill, so I think this is a female. There are two like this. They also have less black on them than the ones I think are males. The suspected males all seem to have a lot of black on their heads while the suspected females do not. I have no idea if that means anything. I do know that the males will have dark heads when mature and the females will have light heads, but what they look like now could have very little to do with what they look like later.
The thing with the bills, though, is only 90% accurate. And it’s only accurate within a short time from hatching. But they don’t say anywhere how many days. Just that bill color can change within several days of hatching. And the weird part is that sometimes, not always, but usually, the females end up with dark bills with a lighter spot at the top and the males end up with lighter bills that are almost orange or sometimes a very light gray. But I’ve seen a few pictures of mature females that have light gray bills.
I guess patience is the only way I’m going to get a definitive answer, because I am really not ready to try vent sexing a duckling. I am not very good with patience. It is something I work on daily. In fact, I think God gave me my son simply to make me a more patient person. It has worked somewhat, but only with my son!
I think the Pekins know they are meat ducks because they are doing everything they can to ingratiate themselves with us, up to and including extreme cuteness attacks.
Yeah, I know.
On the rabbit front, I am trying to keep up a positive attitude, but Piper is not doing so well. I do not understand what is going on in the rabbitry. We are keeping it very clean. It is not a sanitation issue. Piper does not seem to be gaining any weight with this pregnancy. In fact she looks like she is losing weight and petting her back did not feel right tonight. She seems way more tired than usual. She’ll turn two on April 2nd. She’s not that old yet and she had a good rest from having kits over the winter. She is eating, but she does not seem to be drinking as much as usual. I did see her drink this evening. She drank about an inch of water in one go. But she’s only drank two inches of water since last night. Usually she drinks half a water bottle in 24 hours, sometimes more.
All she is eating is hay, a bit of straw, pellets, and the occasional carrot. Not fodder. The new trays kind of failed so there hasn’t been any fodder for a week. And I’m thinking about stopping it anyway. It’s becoming a hassle to keep up with and now that I’ve got the ducklings to take care of as well, I’m not sure I want to deal with it. Especially with gardening on the horizon. I do have better trays coming, but I may just shut it down until late next fall and start it up again with a pump and a timer to automate the watering.
I am going to scour the yard tomorrow for lemon balm, dandelion greens, and check to see if there are any blackberry leaves. I know we have one blackberry that is an evergreen. They are supposed to be good for digestion and diarrhea, which I am afraid may end up being the problem as her droppings are a bit off. I will give her some of my indoor rosemary plant tomorrow. It is supposed to help stimulate digestion and is good for exhaustion in rabbits. I will give her some of my indoor thyme plant which is good for diarrhea and check to see if the outdoor thyme plant is growing yet. The herbs are not that big, so I can’t give her very much, but I figure even a little will help. I gave her a small amount of oats tonight, also good for diarrhea.
I am so afraid she is going to go the way that Sweetie Belle did, though, and that would just break my heart. Mentally I am already digging a grave next to Sweetie Belle, and she’s not even that bad yet. If I lose two rabbits in one week… It was bad enough when that happened with babies, but not my best girl, not when she’s pregnant, and pregnant with possible reds. It is small consolation that I have three of her children, though I am grateful for Lola, Andromeda, and Kalia even if only the latter inherited her temperament and may never be big enough to breed.
I know it is probably trivial to ask for prayer for a rabbit, but I am. Please pray for Piper, that she will be okay. Or barring that, that I will be. This is why I didn’t have animals for so many years. They steal your heart and then they break it.
On the pantry challenge front, still doing okay. I was not feeling well this morning so skipped breakfast. The kids had eggs and toast. Lunch was Rabbit Vegetable Noodle Soup with crackers. I am almost out of saltine crackers as I opened the last sleeve from the pantry. I think I still have a sleeve of multi-grain club crackers and 1/4 box of pita crackers though. Dinner was picnic ham I made in the crockpot, a jar of home canned green beans, and sugared strawberries from our freezer stash. I am out of milk so will have to pick some of that up tomorrow. Milk is the only thing I am allowing myself to buy on this challenge. I still have not caved and bought fresh greens. I still want to. In a couple more days though I can harvest a few of the outside leaves on my red romaine. Not even enough for a salad, but enough to put on a sandwich. Well, half a sandwich, anyway.