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

Gratuitous duckling photos

Outdoor chick and duck brooder

Looking ducklingI often keep chicks inside for up to a week before tossing them into the outdoor brooder, but this batch was already two days old when they arrived, and the weather had been so warm, I opted to move everyone outside Saturday morning.  By Saturday afternoon, I was sitting and watching them through the open door when chicks started tumbling out onto the ground, so I figured, why not let them go outside early too?  I did have to babysit the youngsters a bit when a few of them couldn't figure out how to get back inside, but soon both ducklings and chicks were busy pecking at ants, crowfoot seeds, and dead nettle flowers.

Swimming ducklings

Duck watererSunday, Mom came over, and I figured it was time to let our ducklings go for a swim.  Mark found a glass pie pan in the barn that was just the right depth for safe escapes, and the ducklings took to it like, well, like ducks to water.

The chicks soon came running over to see what all the excitement was about, but most ran right back inside to drink from our EZ Miser.

(We did decide to stick to a nipple waterer for both ducks and chicks in the brooder, but will be giving the ducklings daily swims to keep their eyes and nostrils happy.)

Taming ducklings

The Ancona ducklings and Cornish Cross chicks are much tamer than the Australorps we usually raise, so I showed Mom that they'd clamber right onto her hand if she left it on the Chick and ducklingground.  She baited the hand with dead nettles, and soon was snuggling with ducklings.

Despite their cuteness, though, I don't think Mark needs to worry that the adorable livestock will be impossible to turn into dinner.  If ducks are anything like chickens, they grow out of their cuteness about the time they start to lose their fluff --- around week two or three.  I'll enjoy the cuteness while it lasts and will enjoy chicken and duck dinners in July just as much.

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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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Chickens are handsome, but ducks are charismatic. Not to say that you can't make them into (delicious) dinners, but it is not quite the same, at least to me. Chickens are beautiful but cold. Ducks- quirky and funny. I know some people who couldn't harvest their ducks, but had no problems with chickens. Don't count your chickens before they hatch, and don't count duck dinners before you harvest. But either way- I am looking forward to reading about it!

Comment by Eric in Japan Mon Apr 28 09:46:58 2014

They won't outgrow their cuteness until full grown, and then they are still adorable with their behavior.

Duck Suppers are wonderful. They have a grand flavor. Very greasy but that renders off then can be saved for future cooking. I have only roasted them with dry heat but I am going to try moist heat soon.

So glad to see the swimming pool...:o) As you will soon see it's much more than eyes, and nostrils.

Comment by Edith Mon Apr 28 13:27:53 2014

You know, I never actually had any desire to have chickens. I have a friend who has them, and she shares her eggs when she can. I'm not really fond of birds, anyway.

But those ducks.... OMG how adorable. I will be following this VERY closely! =D

Comment by Emily from Bristol Mon Apr 28 14:31:16 2014
We've raised ducks and chickens for about 14 years now. Ducks are so much more appealing to me than the chickens. And it lasts their whole lives. They lose the fluff but they still have such smart and endearing faces/eyes. They really seem to see you and pay attention in a way the chickens usually don't. And like someone else mentioned their personalities are really great. Great fluffy butted waddles. LOL I love ducks far more than chickens once we had them. They are much harder for us to kill.
Comment by MM Mon Apr 28 15:51:25 2014


Like many others have already said, ducks are adorable forever. They never lose their curious and loving natures. When you do something they enjoy, like spraying them with a water hose, they turn their heads up at you in this little cocked-to-the-side way that makes them look appreciative and dare I say, happy. I can easily take the head off of a chicken, but I always dread the day of harvesting duck.

Comment by Robert Mon Apr 28 19:49:24 2014
Goodness, what cuties! Thanks for the photos!
Comment by Brandy Tue Apr 29 14:09:53 2014

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