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Falling for ducks

Ancona ducks

I wondered how long it would take for our five ducks to find the larger of our two creeks. And I also wondered --- if they took to the water, would they ever come back?

The answer is: February. And: yes.

Flapping duck

I have to admit that our ducks are growing on me. Chickens are so much more malleable, but ducks have their own appeal if you're able to let them roam semi-wild across a swampy property. (Outside the core perimeter, of course, so they don't bother the garden.) Despite their white color, we haven't lost a single duck to predators, and the waterfowl continue to average an 80% lay rate throughout the cold, dark winter. In contrast, our hens are only at about 50% at the moment.

When two mallards (wild version of the same species) flew over last week, I actually had a random thought that maybe a drake would drop in and inseminate our tame ducks, then she'd go broody and produce some ducklings to perpetuate the local population of the species. A very slim shot...but I actually wouldn't mind keeping ducks around for a while longer, if only to watch them dabble in the creek...and to enjoy those big, midwinter eggs.

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Anna - I thought all the ducks had been dispatched already! (I remember your trial of trying to defeather them), and with all the adorable goat photos of late, had completely forgotten you had ducks on the homestead!

Also - the comment about keeping them out of the garden surprised me. I thought ducks tended to do very little damage, whereas chickens must be kept out at all cost unless they were being tasked with tilling up a bed before/after the season?

Comment by Karen B Sun Feb 15 11:03:59 2015

Karen --- We put all of the males in the freezer after deciding ducks weren't for us. Perhaps I was too hasty, though.... :-)

As for keeping ducks out of the garden --- theory-oriented permaculture books often tell you the two mix well. However, my experience has been very different, and people who have firsthand contact with ducks (notably Carol Deppe) tend to agree with me. Unfortunately, many things that sounds too good to be true are....

Comment by anna Sun Feb 15 11:57:30 2015

Nice to see the ducks growing on you ! I adore all my ducks so much,,, I consider my muscovy and khakis to be the #1 choices for our homestead poultry,, if I could only keep a couple of breeds it would be those two And a trio of geese !

I'm always amused at people who write things like ,, ducks and geese don't bother the garden,,haha!....but i think my favorite to good to be true permaculture theory is , let pigs plow your garden. Yeah, that didn't work!

Comment by angie silvera Mon Feb 16 13:35:20 2015

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime