It’s been four months. Four months that I’ve been trying to sit down and write this post. Four months that I’ve been kicking myself for not blogging about all the amazing things going down on our homestead. Four months since we started raising ducks on our woodland homestead.
I meant to write, really I did. I didn’t mean to leave you all hanging for a year, waiting to see what’s going on at our new homestead. But you know how it is, life gets in the way of our plans.
Last July we moved to our woodland homestead. In January I got a new teaching job closer to home. The combination of running a brand new homestead and starting a brand new teaching job was overwhelming to say the least.
Learning the names of my new 650 art students, planning lessons, setting up and dismantling the art show, chasing around all the critters on our homestead, establishing new garden beds, and building several new structures on our land has taken every bit of my energy.
Now it’s been over a year since we moved into this house and I need to tell you about everything we’ve been up to!
For today… ducks.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for so long that our adorable little ducklings went and grew up on me. They’re now huge, and noisy, and messy, and smelly, and still super adorable.
Our decision to get ducks was a spontaneous one. We were given a dozen duck eggs from our friends over at M & M Eggs. We stopped there on our way back from a trip to Montreal, and traded some chicken mugs for hatching eggs. They insisted that we needed to try duck eggs, so we went home with a dozen of those as well.
We discovered that duck eggs are downright delicious, and that week my brother just happened to mention that he’d be ordering ducklings and offered to split the order with us. We jumped at the opportunity, and a month later, ducklings landed on our doorstep.
We found out almost immediately that ducklings are incredibly different from chicks. We’d already raised dozens upon dozens of chicks, so we figured how different can ducklings be?
Turns out, very different. Ducklings love water. I mean LOVE water. They play in it, splash in it, dance around in it, and poop in it. It’s their favorite thing ever, and after day one, their brooder was downright drowning in water. It took several days of research and experimentation to figure out how to only have to change their brooder once a day instead of three times a day.
The other thing that’s shockingly different about ducks is how fast they grow. They grew easily twice as fast as chickens do, and by two weeks old they were already too big for our biggest brooder.
We cornered off a section of the chicken coop and moved them out there. I was a worried wreck about having them in the same space as the chickens. I know chickens can be mean, and how they cherish their pecking order. I knew throwing ducks into the mix would be a big change.
Turns out the next surprising thing about raising ducks was that they can be even bigger bullies than the chickens. When we finally integrated all the birds, the ducklings could more than hold their own. I caught them several times grabbing hold of chicken tails with their bills, and waddling around quacking loudly in the faces of the chickens.
The chickens were flabergasted by these new creatures and seemed quite annoyed at the intrusion in their space.
It took several weeks but everyone adjusted and now the chickens and ducks live as harmoniously as they can. The ducks keep to themselves in their little duck gang. The chickens mostly ignore them and go about their business.
Our original intention for the ducks was to let them out to free range with the chickens every day. We have a large creek that runs through our property and we figured the ducks would like to swim in it. Now that we actually have the ducks, we’re re-thinking this option. You see, chickens are really good about coming home every night before bed. We let them out in the afternoon, they roam the property all day, and at night they put themselves to bed in the coop, we only have to shut the door behind them.
Ducks, not so much. Every night I go out to put the birds to bed and all the chickens are inside roosting while the ducks are just sitting out in the dark, waiting to be eaten by a hungry coyote. Then we play their favorite game, where I chase them all over the place, yelling “get inside, get inside!” and they quack loudly at me and waddle away every time I get near.
It’s great fun for them and very frustrating for me. If the little monsters ever prove to me that they can go to bed at night on their own, I’ll consider letting them down into the creek bed, but until then I’d rather not feed the local coyote pack.