Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mystery on the Unfarm

Mystery on the Unfarm - it sounds like it could be the title for a Nancy Drew novel but it's just the latest thing going on here on the Unfarm. Yesterday I went out back and found Maggie quacking away and looking a bit lost with Minna nowhere in sight. This is unusual as Minna and Maggie are rarely more than five feet away from each other at any given moment. Minna, however, is not a quiet duck by any stretch of the imagination and following her quacks I was quickly able to find her in the dog run. How she got in there I don't know. Enter the mystery.

The backyard, I should explain, is a series of fences and runs: a chicken coop sits in the back corner surrounded by a six foot (supposedly too tall for a chicken to fly over - not true, by the way) fence that makes up their run. This is not so much to keep the chickens in as to keep strange dogs that might be visiting, out. The chicken run sits inside the dog run, which is a four foot fence that fences off the back quarter of the yard, with a "chute" that runs down the middle of the yard up onto the deck. To get from one side of the yard to the other you can either go through the gates in the dog run chute or walk under the deck, which is about seven feet off the ground. The back yard itself is entirely fenced to keep all the various animals from running off or from being bothered by passing dogs or roaming coyotes.

So the only way Minna could have gotten into the dog run, with the gates shut, is to have flown over the top or to have crawled under the dog run fence beneath the squirrel feeder, where the chickens have made large holes as a result of their dust bathing. Initially, my thinking was that Minna had simply wandered under the fence by accident - half the time the ducks wander around the yard nose first following bugs, their eyes on the dirt. Walking under a fence while not paying attention would not be unheard of.

Today, however, I arrived home to find Minna on the back deck. So did she walk under the fence again or is she stretching her wings and flying over the fence? I am starting to get a bit worried that she's flying. My previous duck could fly and she once flew over the backyard fence and hit a powerline. She also later flew away for good after my dad threw out her nest of eggs even after I had expressly told him not to touch them. (But that is a WHOLE other story.) Maggie, being almost twice as large as Minna, can neither crawl under or fly over anything and so while Minna goes exploring so she stands out in the yard quacking (somewhat forlornly) and waits for me to come out and open the gate for her.

Because I am unable to ask Minna how she keeps getting into the run, it seems that for now the mystery will continue. But we're bound to catch her at it one of these days and the Mystery on the Unfarm will be solved. Until the next one appears. And there likely will be a next one. It once took us a week to solve the Mystery of the Disappearing Chicken, but we did manage to solve it (she was flying up into a large fir tree at night and spending the whole night perched in the branches) and things returned to normal. Well, normal for the unfarm.

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