Our backyard has turned into "Mud Pit Junior High". When I initially debated whether to get chickens or ducks for backyard eggs, I made a pro/con list. On the pro-duck list was the fact that chickens scratch up lawn while ducks do not (hard to scratch with webbed feet). I'd been in many a backyard where lawn had become mud with a backyard chicken flock. Well . . . that little fantasy bubble is burst. Actually, due to the poor soil back there, the "green" of the lawn was mostly weeds, anyway, but the backyard is definitely just as muddy as it would've been had we gotten chickens. It seems to be the emptying of their water every morning that is wiping out the lawn more than anything. We are putting our collective mind here toward a solution. Current brainstorming is leaning toward installing a rocked circle for draining duck water, but we'll see.
And as to the junior high aspect . . . it's not just the goaties screaming for boy goats once a month (they seem to be certain that if they just scream loudly enough, a handsome suburban buck will arrive), but now Jemima Dorothy, Lucy, and Nancy Drew have turned into quintessential Mean Girls. For fun, they bully Ethel. Mostly they wait until she approaches the water for a drink, then they gang up. They peck and bite at the back of her head and neck, and one will climb on her to hold her down while the others peck at her. If she gets into the water bucket, they will actually hold her head under water while she struggles to get out. Most distressing to us! One of the children runs out to break it up when we notice this behavior, but it's hard to think of something to do that won't make the situation worse. We were wondering if it was Ethel that was the lone duck not laying, and perhaps this had something to do with it. But this morning for the first time, we had 4 eggs. Wooo eeeeee, we're at the full egg laying target! Now, off to ask Uncle Google how to deal with mean-girl behavior in poultry . . .