Our pastured poultry project isn’t working out quite like we had hoped. Saturday we added a section of the electric netting where some fresh sprouts were growing and got the ducks a bigger pool (a six foot galvanized trough). We put the chicks in the coop with a heat lamp and gave the ducks a nest box and shelter near the pool. They were having a blast in the big pool, swimming and splashing like crazy. It was so fun to see! After a couple hours we noticed the drake wasn’t getting out of the pool, he was swimming in circles and rubbing his neck on the side of the trough. We went to check on him and Scarlet noticed his back looked very red. I pulled him out of the water and his whole bottom half of his back was bare and bleeding. He didn’t resist me holding him and was shaking like he was freezing. We took him into the craft room were we had been brooding the chicks and set him up with a heat lamp and fresh bedding. Once he warmed up he could stand again and he started eating the next day. We kept him in his hospital unit to recover and the hens were in the paddock outside happily swimming and nesting. We think the hens pecked his feathers out in the pool but don’t know why. He is getting better though and is playing again and re-growing feathers. Monday we left for the day in the early am with everybody in their place and returned home that afternoon to find both hens had been killed! Something came into the electric fence and took their heads right off without eating them. We couldn’t think what would do that besides maybe a hawk. Well that night I got up several times to look out at the chicks (locked safely in their coop inside the electric netting) and at one point saw the outline of a huge great horned owl. He was sitting watching the chicks. We scared him away with a flashlight but I think we have our answer as to what killed the ducks. And now we know we need a fully enclosed run so we can’t let the drake out yet. The poor lone duck! He will be sad on his own unless he considers the chicks part of his flock. We are debating getting a Pekin duckling to keep him company while we wait for more Welsh Harlequins next season. Sad week, many lessons learned and I’m sure many more will come. This stuffs not for sissies!!