Meet the Quackers!

We’re talking about ducks, of course.

When I first decided to just make a go of homesteading exactly where I am, chickens and ducks were one of my first investments. I wanted fresh eggs. I wanted an eco-friendly way of reducing bugs and slugs and such in the garden. Ducks are supposedly great for eating slugs and also those great, horned, tomato worms. I’m not sure how accurate this is. My ducks are more interested in kamakazi waddles down the driveway and, if I didn’t turn into a human border collie in a hurry and herd them back into the garden, they’d waddle right out into Interstate 6. So the ducks now reside solely in the backyard. And, while they could probably fly straight over the chain link fence, fresh food, a warm barn to sleep in each night, and a giant kiddie pool to swim in are reasons enough to stay grounded.

Of course, I sometimes think I should’ve followed some friendly advice when I first got them and returned the two drakes to Agway once their sex was confirmed. But my heart got in the way. Being put in someone’s stew pot simply because they’re male just didn’t seem fair. I love Duncan and Dweezil but, since Dweezil’s mate, Delilah, suffered a coronary three years’ ago from nearly being devoured by a fox, and despite having Dixie still with them, they won’t leave my chickens alone. And they are quite brutal about it. They seem to single out one or two hens at a time and what horny little beasts they are! I’ve had conflicting information about the whole duck/chicken thing. I had one person tell me that ducks (forgive the delicate discussion here…) are better “endowed” than roosters and can actually do harm to the hens. However, their vet says they cannot truly “mate” unless they are in water and none of my hens are bathing beauties. But we could give them both an “A” for effort…and call their parents in for a conference for being such bullies about it (chuckle). Right now, my Prudence is one of their main interests. However, as one of the oldest gals, she’s pretty sharp. And her buddy, Chester, has no objections whatsoever if she decides to flutter up onto his back to escape their attentions (Chester is a goat…). There are plans this year to build a separate enclosure for the ducks that won’t separate them entirely from the chickens, as they’ve all been one big flock for the past 7 years, but keep the ducks from harassing the hens. I’m thinking perhaps something along the lines of one of those chicken tractors you see at many feed stores but modified to accommodate the ducks.

And, before anyone asks, I tried to introduce more ducks a couple of summers ago. A friend of mine had a male and a female that she was trying to place and asked if I would be willing to take them. I said, ‘Sure’ and she brought them over. While we both expected some pecking order activities, Duncan and Dweezil soon had her two Quackers so cowed they wouldn’t leave the back corner of the henhouse–and hers were twice the size of mine. They also wouldn’t eat. So I had to call my friend and ask her to come get them. Maybe if I set up a brooder with ducklings and slowly introduced them, they might adjust better. But, I’m afraid to chance it in case I have a bigger problem on my hands. So, for now, it is just the three of them. Though they can be a pain you-know-where with this inability to stick with their own kind (haha), their synchronized quacking as they waddle single file across the barnyard from one pursuit to another is the sweetest music. And, I have to admit, I haven’t seen a single slug in my barnyard since they arrived.

May God bless you & keep you!

These are the two drakes. Duncan’s back is to the camera. Unfortunately, the Quackers, as they are collectively called, were even more concerned about the cellphone coming out than the chickens. Dweezil is the one to the right and more in the foreground.

I had a tough time getting Dixie’s picture. This dark-capped boy is Duncan. And he was being very protective of his mate as she had built herself a little nest in back of an old rabbit hutch in the goat barn. You can just make her out to the left and a little below Duncan’s chest. As for the nest, it has long since been abandoned. Duncan, Dweezil and Dixie are Khaki Campbells and they have a reputation for being rather neglectful mothers. Dixie will lay a few eggs, set them for about a week and then abandon them. I’ve had a few hens take over but it usually doesn’t last…

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