The birds have been settling into their home, and The Girl comes with me sometimes to check on them in the evenings.
The ducks always snuggle up together in the corner, and the chickens perch together in a row, heads buried in their fluffed feathers like really fat songbirds.
The Girl and I worked together over the weekend to clean out the coop, and she occupied the chickens and ducks while I wheeled barrows of mulch back and forth. She has given them all names and knows their personalities, and she knows which ones to watch out for.
“Look at the scratch Marge gave me!” she said, holding out her hand.
That’s impressive, I said. Marge and Trudy are the troublemakers, aren’t they?
“It’s Marge doing it!” The Girl said. “Trudy’s not really bad at heart – Marge just drags her along and gets her in trouble. Trudy’s like Peter Lorre’s character in Arsenic and Old Lace.”
Now that our ducks have had a few months to get used to our run as their home, The Girl and I agreed we would let them walk to the canal outside our home this weekend, in the hope they will return to familiar food and bed at the end of the day. We want to let them have a chance to paddle around in water -- they're ducks -- but there's always the risk they won't come back.
Whatever they do, I said, it will be their choice, and we have to trust that they will be all right.
"But I worry about them, Daddy," she said. "They're really dim. And that's by duck standards."
Photo: The chickens one morning during our light snow. The ducks are not early risers.