The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Ducks and ponds

Ducklings in a kiddie pond

It's been six whole days since we last posted about our ducklings.  I know you must all be in withdrawal!

Sky pond

More seriously, we've learned a lot over the past week, so it's time for another photo-rich post.  The first thing we learned is --- our sky pond does hold water!

Two-week-old ducklingWhy do I sound so surprised?  In a linerless pond, you don't really know right away whether your sealing method worked since it takes time for all of the little leaks to stop themselves up.  As a result, I wasn't sure whether my foot-stomped gleying did its job, or whether the pond surface was just reflecting the surrounding groundwater levels.  All winter, the pond waxed and waned with the weather, so I suspected my gleying hadn't done anything.

When the sky pond dipped down to about six inches below ground level early this week, Mark suggested I fill it up with a hose.  This was a good test of the water-tightness of the seal since the groundwater has descended quite low in the absence of rain.  Thus, if the pond wasn't sealed, I would expect the water I added to the pond to quickly drain away.  Instead, twenty-four hours after filling, the pond was pretty much the same depth as when I turned the hose off!  It looks like the sky pond might really be turning into a pond rather than a simple hole in the ground.

Herding ducks

Ducks diningThe next thing I learned was more duck-related.  When we posted last weekend about letting the ducklings out into the sky pond, several of you commented to ask how we'd get them back into the brooder at night.  Although our ducklings did pop out of the water a few times a day to dine inside, our readers were right --- they would have rather slept on the water rather than in their safe little coop.  However, a little bit of gentle herding (with a stick or a second person to channel the waterfowl toward the open door) was sufficient to get them into the brooder each night.  Ducklings are definitely harder to herd than chickens (despite what books say), but shutting them in is quite feasible.


For the first few days, the ducks didn't get out of the sky pond until I made them, but then the duckweed and water bugs gave out and our waterfowl started to spend more time on the bank.  Soon, the little flock realized that strawberries were only two feet Swimming ducklingsfrom the shore and they began to peck hungrily at the green fruit.  That was my cue to move them to a new spot.

The kiddie pool had only enjoyed about a week of duck-weed-growing time, so I was a bit afraid the sterile surroundings wouldn't hold their interest.  But our ducklings told me that water is water --- they were happy.  They were even happier once I tossed in an armload of tender weeds from the garden, giving the youngsters something to play with.

Mark wanted to know what the big picture plan is --- how long will the ducklings be living in the backyard?  When will they go to the starplate coop with this year's young pullets?  The answer is --- I don't know.  It all depends on how well they play with the garden.  I'll keep you posted and will regale you with far too many photos again before you know it.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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They are much easier to herd than Chickens if you do it right.

First they are very timid like I mentioned so they spook easily. All you have to do is move slowly. Do not make sudden moves. Walk behind them and guide them to where you want them to go. Use your arms to guide them ... right arm to go left, and left arm to go right. Or use a broom but move it slowly not radically.


Comment by Edith Sat May 10 21:59:27 2014
I love the duckling pictures! Especially the ducks that are both yellow and black.
Comment by Juniper Sun May 11 01:23:39 2014
Aww, they are so very cute! Glad your pond is doing well.
Comment by Brandy Sun May 11 06:53:59 2014

Edith --- I think that, perhaps, I'm just really good at herding chickens. I find chickens quite easy to move along at a walking pace using the same methods you mentioned (but with the addition of a long stick so my arms seem longer). However, with ducks , I have to go really, really slooowly not to scare them. That's why I say ducks are harder --- you have to be more careful with them.

Juniper and Brandy --- I agree. Definitely still cute, although looking more like ducks and less like ducklings. :-)

Comment by anna Sun May 11 07:17:38 2014

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