Friday, April 7, 2017

I think I'm Addicted to Ducks.

I think I'm addicted. I brought three more ducklings home. They are so.... cute. Even my husband concurs. The little yellow duck you can see amongst all the black chicks in the picture kept falling asleep, his head lolling to the side and then he'd fall over. It was hilarious.
The little black Swedish duckling with the crested head kept jumping up trying to see over the top of the store box he was carried home in. That crest on top makes me smile and we are working on a name that means trouble.

My oldest daughter was laughing so hard at the friendly trio that I was bringing home that she has decided that she wants ducks instead of chickens when she buys her own home. I say have both. From what I've observed they get along fabulously. My mother-in-law spent over an hour laughing at them. I just had to drop by and show her before heading home. I also took them to see our youngest grand daughter who is five months old. She smiled BIG! 

There is at least three kinds of different Swedish ducks in the four. I figured all the better diversity of genetics for breeding. And truthfully, for once I let my emotions make the pick. Now cross your fingers we have one boy and the rest girls, not the other way around. No, they do not come sexed.
The Pekin and this chick are best buds, about the same age, if not the same size. They preen each other and sleep together joined by the Swedish duck and the other chick about the same age. When the Pekin and Swede goes off to take a bath, the chick screams for his return.
But you are probably wondering, what do I have planned for the ducks? Miss Practical here always has a plan though it maybe not be well thought out. This one is pretty sketchy. I started researching on caring for duck. It has been a very long time since we had ducks and my memory faint on the subject. Besides our set up is different and they won't be raised for meat but for a permacultural environment. This our problem and our plan. The chickens about destroyed the garden last year. We learned that six isn't too bad but twenty chickens in a garden is shear bedlum. Once they have had a taste for it, they are not taking turns and sneak through the gate the moment you open it and the ones who can fly do, over the seven foot fence. 

They believe in a level playing field. I'm trying to achieve an Elliot Coleman style garden with dirt heaped, permanent growing beds and well worn paths. Done right they will over time not need rotatilling, just lightly turned over with a fork, not a kitchen fork. The paths will become well worn and weed free. That is where the Swedish ducks come in. They don't level the ground, they don't fly so they remain fenced. They love bugs, worms, and especially GRASS!!! They, unlike chickens, can be herded from the, to be expanded and to be re-fenced orchard, the new garden in the making, and the expanded old garden.

What we have learned in the few years we have lived here is, we do not have the time and energy to do all the things we need to accomplish. Creating a permaculture will give us the more for less while working with nature.The biggest job will be figuring out how to do that. Presently we build and then redo in a better fashion when mistakes are made apparent. It will take some years to accomplish since the same tasks have to be done over and over until it works well. For instance, the garden needs re-fenced as we've learned the deer now stay out, unless we leave the gate open, but the rabbits eat their way in. No to plastic deer fencing, yes to woven wire. We need a watering system so I can quit spending so much time moving the hose. To establish what we have in mind we need permanent beds which we learned are in need of a little adjustment because of how the winds blows the sprinkling water. So it goes with all our projects.

The hope is the ducks will help weed the garden, especially the pesky grass that keeps creeping in and they will remove unwanted bugs, and poop. Lots of poop. Poop like geese, not like chickens. Messier, yes, but not hot so it is not damaging if fresh. It might be rather gross not to kneel in but I have ideas about that too. If you raise ducks let me know. I could sure use some tips. I'm not so confident as things have not working out so swell with the bunnies. My bad. My ignorance but I'm learning and I'm not giving up. I just hope things go more smoothly with the ducks.


  1. I love my ducks. LOVE them. I picked up 6 Rouen/Pekin crosses June 2015 and I now have 16 - the originals and their offspring. They are wonderful just to have around, which is all I wanted from them, but they also reduce the population of slugs and snails quite significantly. I keep a disaster of a barn, so the mess they make with the water does not matter to me. I will give you two warnings - do not feed them any additional protein than the chick starter food as they are growing, or you will create "angel wing" a condition where the last joint of their wings becomes weak and the end flips up permanently. It doesn't seem to kill them but it looks terrible. I raised my first batch of ducklings with Guineas and fed the guineas additional protein, as they require, but ruined the ducks. The other warning is - until they have full real feathers, they sink in water. They can drown. Nothing sadder than a drowned duckling. And they take a looong time to feather out. Way slower than chickens. Enjoy your ducks! Once they get their real quacks, that's how you tell the boys from the girls. Girls have the big QUACK QUACK QUACK that you imagine a duck doing, the boys whisper their quacks.

  2. Great information to know. The five of them had a bath this morning. The little ones I kept a close eye on as their feet could not touch the bottom. They had a ball swimming. The larger ducks could stand up and were wishing it was deeper. The chicks in the other room were screaming their heads off wondering where the ducks went. I need to move the big ducks to larger accommodations and a larger waterer so the Pekin can get his bill in easier but it will break the chicks hearts.