Ducks! One of the most joyful, playful, entertaining aspects of the farm. The first summer we lived here (2010) the boys and I found ourselves at the local feedstore, totally mesmerized by their last 3 ducklings for sale for the season. Overgrown, bored, and ready for a home, these ducklings were calling our names!
We knew nothing about waterfowl, but grabbed them up anyway and took them home to start our adventure. Ping and Pong, the two pekins, turned out to be hens, but the Rouen turned into a drake. A trio! Our homeschooled boys spent every free minute with their new ducks… supervising their bathtimes and even napping with them in the yard.
When they outgrew the bathtub and got all their feathers in, we built them a little duck house inside the garden and the boys faithfully cleaned their kiddie pool every day. Eventually, Ping and Pong started laying eggs and both sat on clutches and hatched out the cutest Pekin-Rouen mixed ducklings! We even collected more fertile eggs and hatched them in a hova-bator on top of the piano.
Finally, we had so many ducks and duck eggs that we turned them all out of the garden and let them free-range on the pond. Their overhead predator pressure was high from eagles and hawks, so Patrick cleverly threw a few of his duck decoys out onto the water. The eagles still came, but while they grabbed decoy ducks, the others dove and hid. We often found plastic ducks up on the bank or in the lawn, with their anchors dragging behind them!
Today, over a decade of ducks later, our mixed population ebbs and flows with the seasons. Friends and neighbors rehome their lonely ducks to live on the pond with the flock. The hens find the shelter of shrubs and woodpiles to nest in, and after a month disappearance, they emerge with the cutest puffballs in tow. The local wildlife may take a few now and then, but their population is mostly stabilized. When there are too many drakes, we round them all up and process the plump ones. A whole, smoked duck is a real holiday treat… let us know if you’d like to reserve one sometime!
Our newer flock of Swedish Blues will live in the garden for the 2021-2022 winter… performing long-overdue slug patrol duties. In the spring, we’ll incubate and sell Swedish Blue ducklings to help this watched/endangered breed recover. The blues are a great dual-purpose medium sized duck, perfect for the hobby farm enthusiast.
We’ve never had a farm goose, and after trying a couple different breeds of turkeys, have decided to stick with just chickens and ducks.