Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ducks




We wanted ducks because we have ponds. "Ducks would look nice on those ponds," we thought.

We bought three mallards locally and ordered ten Indian Runner ducks.

If you remember the duck from the movie "Babe", that was a Runner duck. Supposedly they stand upright from generations of being herded.

I thought they would look just like the pictures in catalogs, but I guess that is the idealized version. They don't stand like that all the time either - just when they are very alert or when they are running.

They are hilarious when they are young. If Indian Runner ducklings were prescribed for people who are depressed, it would save a lot of money spent on drugs. We shared a lot of laughs over these ducks last spring.


Typical duck posture


Two of the mallards were victims of us not realizing what a coyote problem we had. After a certain age we were letting them sleep wherever they wanted, when we should have been locking them up at night. We learned that the hard way.

The morning of our realization about the coyotes, the remaining mallard was so pitiful. She wandered everywhere looking for her buddies. I felt really bad and really stupid.

She got used to the Runner ducklings after a short time though. They annoyed her, but she wanted some friends.

One of the Runners was DOA, and two disappeared in mysterious incidents. We suspected the dog, especially after we spotted her with duck feathers in her mouth. She was still a puppy and may not have realized what she was doing.

So now we have a group of eight ducks, none of whom want to go anywhere near the ponds. They want to stay in the yard. They like looking at their reflections in the glass shop door. They don't want to have anything to do with us, yet can't bear to be too far away from us. They love their kiddy pool and hate the ponds.


Ducks don't like being much farther apart than this.

But lately we've had glimmers of hope. The ducks have discovered that they like the ditch, and have been spending a lot of time there. Ducks are the messiest creatures on the earth, and being messy in the ditch is infinitely better than being messy on the porch.

We have been trying to coax them over to the ponds by putting corn out in the area. Someone told me that it took their ducks about a year to want to live at their pond, so there is still hope!

19 comments:

sugarcreekfarm said...

I just wanted to say how much I love your blog. Of course as a Pyr owner myself I love to see pictures of Jasmine. Our Pyr is not so great about sticking around the homestead, unfortunately. I love him anyway.

I keep toying with getting ducks. The wild ducks seem to like our creek. I like the Indian Runners, and I'd like some Muscovies. But for now it's just chickens for us. You said you have more eggs than you can eat. What do you do with the extras? We're in the same boat. We do try to sell them but we don't get rid of enough. And of course, like you, we'll be ordering more chickens this year :) Seems logical to me!

Rurality said...

Thanks Kelli!

Muscovies are not really too interested in water. They are much more "homebody" ducks than the others, and never even leave the yard unless it's to see what I'm doing.

Wish I could say the same for the dog... Jasmine did not wander when she was smaller, but nowdays she's more interested in expanding her range. The chickens are the same way, actually.

Someone else told me that once her Khaki Campbells saw the pond on their property, they never left it! I guess different breeds do different things.

The Runners lay a LOT of eggs. We don't like to eat them so Jasmine gets them.

As for the chicken eggs, right now we are just giving them away. I'm afraid that if we tried to sell them we'd never get rid of them all. Some folks do quite well at it but we're happy just to get a pie in exchange every now and then.

We had almost a 70% laying rate in January, and that's even counting the crazy Lakenvelders (who half the time lay their eggs out in the woods where we can't find them).

Anonymous said...

Love you duck pictures :)

I am baffled by our ducks. We have two males, one blue swede and one buff. While I really feel like I have an understanding with my hens, I seem to be completely unable to understand the ducks, they're like odd quacking aliens running around the orchard.

Since they are so fond of pinching my hen's feathery bottoms, we're going to build them their own run over by the garden this Spring, and hopefully add about 3 females.

Consider yourself lucky if your ducks want to be near you without having anything to do with you.....ours obssessively follow and chase us everywhere and fling themselves on our feet and pull our pants. You can hardly walk through the orchard....which is a large part of why they are moving!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the above post is by me, SarahIvy http://www.slaphog.com/sarahblog/

I have a bit of trouble remembering to post my name on LJ's and blogger!

Forms said...

Looks like i commented on ducks too soon! Love what you do...

shannon said...

Maybe I'll just leave our new ducks no option BUT the pond and creek when they arrive - don't have it in me to clean a baby pool for them! (We're just getting a few Pekins) When I feel like making E squirm,I suggest a new venture - partially incubated duck eggs - YUM! (They're actually sold all around here at the bigger Asian groceries, but I don't think he has the heart for that market!)

Rurality said...

Thanks y'all!

Sarah! You definitely need female ducks! :) Male ducks are the most amorous things on 2 legs. If you give them some females to chase after they will probably leave you alone... unless they have learned to love you too much already!

Our hens chase the ducks away unless they happen to be outnumbered. But a frustrated male duck is really a force of nature.

Shannon, well you can't put ducklings out on a pond unless you are certain there are no turtles in it... they'll get eaten! Plus they are just too hilarious in a kiddy pool... you can't miss out on the fun! It's not hard to clean the pool though. Just turn it upside down and then hose for a few seconds and that's it.

Also you have to be careful with hatchery ducklings not to let them in the water when it's too cold outside... they don't have the natural oils from their mother, and can get too chilled and die.

You probably know all that already, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.

MissBossyPants said...

These are like the ducks in "Click Clack Moo" and "Giggle Giggle Quack" and "Duck for President," right? My kids love those books and are always disappointed when the ducks at the park pond don't look like "Trouble Duck."

Rurality said...

It's hard to say. I glanced at the books on Amazon, and think that those ducks might be White Pekins.

Those books look like really good niece birthday presents, thanks!

Michele said...

Oh my...you have a wonderful blog.
Thank you so much for stopping by my site today because I simply followed your link and have had a lovely time reading yoru posts.

Thank you!

Rurality said...

Thanks Michele! So... I guess you could say you sent yourself?

Sorry, couldn't resist, LOL. It seems like every time I peek at someone's comments, somebody is saying "Michele sent me"!

Elinorianne said...

I have no ducks, but I do have a toddler. I would have thought buying a duck would be more expensive for some strange reason. The only ducks I see around here are the ones that have made my Uncle's pool their home. It's strange to see his pool so full of ducks you can't see the water. Strange.

I also popped over from JWH message board. How exciting is that? I didn't think anyone would ever read my blog (Which stands for boring log when it comes to my banter).

I am a huge Carlin fan. I saw him live in October '01 and he was brilliant. I'm so glad he's not getting soft in his old age.

Thanks for the comment, it's my first! Stuff, he does great bits about stuff.

Rurality said...

Thanks for stopping by! Ducks are possibly more aggravating than toddlers, but they're pretty cheap to feed, and you can just lock them up in a pen at night. :)

Anonymous said...

hello your blog was really cute and interesting...its great to know that you care for your ducks:D i hope you have no more cyoties, and all wish you the best!
daniL x x

WasRabbity said...

I was delighted to find this link.
I have Ducks. I just went Quackers this spring. I have had rabbits for years. DUCKS EAT WEEDS!!! Once my ducks got up to 3-4 weeks old the cats lost interest.
Racoons are duck enemy !#1. I lost 4 last week when we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, gone 2 days. But I got some more yesterday. They are just great! My duck pool turned into a Tree Frog breeding ground, but the new ducks found the pool more interesting so I may not have tadpoles now.

Anonymous said...

we have 2 rouen hens. (down from 2 pair and 5 "youngins". My question is how to keep your ducks AWAY from you backyard water-garden pond ! They destroy it! Eat all the plants, frogs and fish, and fill the pond with poop!

Any anti-duck plants you know of?

Jim from Canada

Rurality said...

Jim - sadly, no. A fence might be in order. :)

Anonymous said...

Well alot to comment on here. I am duck lady and mother to about 23 ducks. They came as a way to keep our pond clear of duck weed which all the neighbors would try to rake.It has been 5 yrs and our 4 acre lake is spotless. I built and island out of shipping pallets with styrofoam underneath and put plastic pepsi, or caladium baskets with hay, leaves twigs etc for them to nest in. They sleep there at night and stay safe from predators. The large softshell turtles can be a problem I put a trot line with 30 baited hooks and relocated 10 30" turtles and that took care of the turtle problem. A trap will get the racoons and possums that lurk around to get eggs and I find any hen that lays eggs ashore I mark one egg and remove all as they get laid into the fridge, I have no trouble using them up in cheesecakes, omelets, quiches, egg sandwiches, hardboiled eggs etc. any you can't use you can crack into an ice cube maker tray and then put into zip bags and use when you want eggs for cakes or whatever. They are really delicious, the ducks are also great bug eaters and go around all my plants and grasses. They do not eat my plants, but they would eat lettuce, so I do not let them in the veggie garden.They don't eat roses, hibiscus, vincas, anything that is tough generally they will not go for, tender stuff like impatients they will so look for stuff like butterfly plants, verbena, vines. To get my ducks out into the pond I threw there favorite romaine lettuce out there and rowed out to the islands and put it there too. Any time they do not want the pond is when an alligator or too many turtles are there. They come to my house quacking and let me know. Once I get rid of their fear I throw out the lettuce and get them in again and they go and visit all the homes all day and sleep on the island at night again. I also have a 100 watt halogen worklamp on a dawn to dusk timer to light up the eyes of predators and give them a heads up that something is there. Females quack and let everyone know something is wrong. One male duck services several females so you need a bunch of girls for each male if you do not want the girls to suffer from the rough mating. I have indian runners, pekins, rouen,swedish blues and khakie campbells, they all hang out together but roam around in the groups that they grow up in. When raising ducks from babies put biosolv in the water after they reach 2 weeks, they can get very ill until they get used to parasites and their stomach linings will bleed them to death. First symptoms will be them not wanting to eat or finding them almost dead all of a sudden. I give them pepto bismol right away just a few drops to soothe the stomach lining and then make oatmeal and give them apple juice in water by placing there weak heads in for little sips, then when they can revive enough to eat the oatmeal. By putting the biosolv in the water 2 tsp to a gallon you should not have to worry but if they do, follow those instructions and keep baby ducks warm with a reflector lamp and a regular bulb. I put a towel and hang it and they can move away if they get too hot. I love ducks they are great! Good luck and I hope I have helped alot of people with their ducks! I feed them triple duty by purina it is made for ducks.

Anonymous said...

I just became the father of 9 Indian Runner ducks and I know nothing about how to raise them. I thought that they might help me control my slug population which love to munch on my 700+ hosta plants. They're only six days old but they are already getting used to me and my 2-1/2 year old female yellow Lab is starting to act like Mama and seems to be taking a protective interest in them when she's not following me around the garden. So far, the ducks just hang out near the kitchen door. Is there a good book out there for me to read like RAISING DUCKS FOR DUMMIES? Hank From Connecticut