Duck, Duck, Duck

Last night, I was perusing the craigslist Farm & Garden ads – it’s become a hobby of mine over the past couple of years – and noticed an ad for “Four Free Pekin Ducks.” Now, you don’t have to pinch me to get my motivation going when I see something like that! Free is definitely in our budget, and I know that we provide a good home to our ducks. So we now have four beautiful big white ducks in our flock – two drakes, and two hens. They are about four and a half months old, and the hens just started laying eggs. They are just gorgeous little critters! We are so thankful to their former owner for letting us take them on. We started them out inside the duck house, near the nest boxes when we brought them home last night, so that they’d immediately get an idea of “home base.” They stayed in there, then George persuaded them to go out into the outdoor portion of their nighttime duck fortress. This morning, they explored the outer fenced yard, and now they happily grooming themselves in the soft grass.

We were thrilled to see that their previous owner had been feeding them a grain ration, too. We’ve learned that not everyone feeds their chickens and ducks a balanced ration – instead relying on the birds to forage most of their food, and perhaps providing them with some scratch corn. I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to minimize the amount of GMO corn that goes into my diet, not increase it. And if I were to only feed my birds some cracked corn, well, that’s what’s going to end up my my food, their eggs. I’ve always wondered how some folks are offering chicken eggs for $1.50 a dozen – well, I think I’ve figured that out! They simply aren’t feeding their birds like we do ours. We want a higher quality of food going into our bodies, so we need to insure the quality (and quantity) of food going into our animals who are producing food for us.

We have some portable poultry fencing defining the area outside of their big fenced yard we’d like the ducks to stay in. Most of the time, they comply with our wishes. When they do not, our five year old son very happily goes outside and orders them back within the perimeter. (Which, by the way is both cute and hilarious to watch.)

We now have thirty-six ducks in our flock, which includes Indian Runners, Khaki Campbells, Cuyoga, Muscovy, and Pekin. And one of our Cuyogas actually appears to be a mix of Mallard and Cuyoga – she was a little oddball duckling at the hatchery, which of course meant that my heart melted as soon as I saw her – she was coming home with us, “mutt” or not!

The ducks have been so much fun – we are really glad we brought them onto the farm this year. Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t all hijinx and tomfoolery – they eat significantly more than the chickens do, and of course, they poop a lot too. It is the worst-smelling of all the animal feces here on our farm! But they are darling little creatures who will never fail to bring a smile to your face with their antics, and their delicious eggs, too! Duck eggs make excellent baked goods, and have a much more delectable yolk, if you ask me – it’s very rich.  So their higher cost of keeping them is worthwhile, to our minds.

We have plans to build them a proper pond in the future, but for now, they have some kiddie pools and some persistent puddles that they enjoy immensely. We even have the pond liner to make the pond – but we need to get some digging equipment lined up, because shovels are really not an option for something this large. We aren’t sure if we will be able to accomplish that this season, but it is in the works for next Spring if we do not!

The ducks are laying about a dozen eggs a day right now – so if you are looking for fresh duck eggs, we have them! Duck eggs are $8 a dozen, and can be picked up on the farm (call ahead for availability) or during the week, George can bring them with him to work in downtown Detroit and meet you at lunchtime.

We are thinking about hatching out some ducklings next Spring – we’ll need to get ourselves a little Silkie or another broody hen who will remain dedicated to keeping those eggs warm – and expanding our flock.  We enjoy hearing them from our open windows – they are always chattering about something, and inevitably, one of them tells a joke that’s a real web-slapper, because you hear their chortling duck-laughter loud and clear!  These are great animals, and we’re really happy to have them as a part of our lives.

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4 responses to “Duck, Duck, Duck”

  1. Terri Avatar

    loved the story!

    1. Trase Avatar

      They are a lot of fun!

  2. Jen C Avatar
    Jen C

    I love your duck stories! And that the one is named Zoidberg – my husband would approve. 🙂

    We’re in town still, but we do have a pair of pekin ducks that room in with our 8 hens. The ducks are just funny. Splashing and waddling and bouncing back and forth between sleeping and being generally confused. 🙂

    Ours should be laying anytime now. I’m looking forward to trying duck eggs, and hopefully hatching out a few next spring. I’ll be curious to hear your duck hatching adventures. 🙂

    1. Trase Avatar

      Our Muscovy drake has a little mohawk that stands up when he’s alarmed, much like his namesake Futurama character. He’s pretty neat!

      How exciting to be watching for the first eggs – it never gets old! 🙂 I’ll document any hatching we do here, for sure!

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