My husband wanted ducks, not me. I like ducks well enough. They are cute and they quack. They waggle their tail feathers adorably and dabble. I want to go on record that I am not anti-duck, in general. I just had no interest in adding ducks to our life. I wanted a pond. A nice pond. One planted with Iris and partially shaded with a Weeping Willow. One that some peepers or bull frogs would visit and perhaps a turtle or two. A place to relax, to... "Perfect for ducks!" said Sean. I shook my head, rolled my eyes, and silently hoped that ducks would not appear in my vision. Not ready to give in, I suggested building a duck house for the use of the two wild Mallards that come each Spring to visit for a few weeks before moving on. "It might encourage them to visit longer, perhaps raise a clutch of babies..." I tempted aloud and added to myself, "who would then all fly south and thus require no upkeep through the winter months." The best of both worlds, thought I. "Yes," agreed Sean glad of my finally coming around, "And, we could fence it in and stock a few domestic ducks, too!" Drat! This was not working. Resigned to the inevitable future of having ducks, I said no more.
I was not interested in ducks- smelly, noisy, dirty fowl. They would make a mess of my pond, eat my frogs, and muck up the water.
Then, I saw these:
On the sign of the Aubuchon Feed Store on my way home from work read the advertisement: Ducks are Here! Hmmm... Well, if we were going to get some of these horrid little things, better to go in and at least see what they looked like without Sean there to talk me into it. And, maybe I could ask some questions of the staff... If I discovered some offensive reason why we could not have them, all the better... Ok, what would be the harm in just looking at the awful creatures???
$15 poorer, with a box of "peeping" fluff balls, I had my answer. They were cute. And, they peeped soooo pitifully. There were about 50 of them all crammed into a wooden container, (with fresh food and water and clean litter); there was clearly nothing to be done, but rescue the little things from the obviously perfectly suitable life they were living. I had no choice. I held one. That was the end of my resolve. I said to the ducklings, "Ok, who wants to come home with me to live a lazy life on a dysfunctional farm where you will live out your days eating bugs and wattling about the yard, whether or not you actually produce anything close to earning your keep?" Three stepped forward and I took them home, hoping for females- at least they would lay eggs... maybe.
Sean was thrilled with his gift. Of course, I presented it as such. I had made such a stink about not wanting them, I could hardly admit how smitten I had become! That was the beginning of our duck adventures.
They lived inside our house until they fledged out and could be introduced into the chicken coop. We gave them baths in the kitchen sink in a few inches of water, careful to keep the water shallow, so as not to drown them. We siphoned water down their backs, to help them establish and distribute the necessary oils so they could float. Eventually, they graduated to using our upstairs bath tub and finally to the great out of doors. In the chicken enclosure, we dug a 3x8x3 foot swimming hole, which I lined with thick plastic and Sean devised a drain pipe for. Around the same time, we were given eight additional yearling ducks; mallard/khaki campbell crosses and we answered an ad in the local Uncle Henry's for a free female call duck in need of a new home. That brought us to a dozen; 3 drakes, 9 hens. The arrangement worked suitably well... until a couple of our hens decided to join the wild ducks flying to a warmer climate. We lost two ungrateful hens this way before we clipped the flight feathers on the rest of the flock!
Learning, learning, all the time.
I have grown to love the little monsters. They often escape into the pig pen and occasionally onto the lawn and must be rounded up and returned. Their silly antics and Gillie's insistent call often greet out arrival home or departure to work, which makes us all laugh being that the smallest duck quacks the loudest of them all! And, as of this writing, the hens are producing about 5 eggs each day, which we sell for $4/dozen. I didn't think it likely, but they are beginning to earn their keep financially, as well as the place they hold in our heart. ♥