…and 5 more.

The ducklings are finally here!

ducklings1

that car ride was really not so much fun for us, dude

I went and picked them up from the wonderful Dana of Moose Manor Farms (she led the chicken processing lesson I attended at Green Hill Farm‘s Homesteading Days workshops last year so we knew each other already, though I actually found her farm through someone else!) She breeds some really unusual and heritage breeds and is very worth buying from if you are in the VA/MD/PA area. Her birds are SO much healthier than what you buy at a feed store.

These little puffballs are Golden Cascades, and they’re already about a week old.

golden cascade female.

We are hoping that at least three are female… it’s likely, but not for sure. The breed used to be auto-sexing (so you could tell them apart at hatching) but that became unreliable when someone messed up their bloodlines back in the day.

Dana recommended this breed particularly as a good fit for us when I mentioned I wanted them mostly as egg layers, mosquito-larvae-eaters, and slug catchers, but also needed them to be nice and, ideally, self-propagating. (I was really spoiled last year by my experience with having a hen raise up her own chicks with no effort on my part, but ducks are notoriously horrible mothers.) Moose Manor says:

“This breed was developed by Dave Holderread in 1979 to create a triple duty duck that combines good egg yields, efficient production of high quality meat, and pretty plumage.”

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what up, says the duck

Ducks are messy, messy little birds. As you can see, I’ve got their water set on some hardware cloth above a paint tray. It really helps keep the mess down; they shake droplets everywhere and kind of “chew with their mouths open” if you can imagine them spraying crumbs all over the place too. They’re definitely going to need to have their cage cleaned every day. (Oh well, it makes great compost, right?…)

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I’m just over the moon about these little critters. They’re going to be treated like pets – well, except for any extra males – and I’m hoping to let them free-range through the garden to some extent. They are supposed to be much easier on the plants than chickens are, so it’s not a completely crazy idea. :)

I just have to come up with some better ways to fox-proof the garden first. :( I can’t even figure out how electric fencing might work with our setup, even if we were ready to invest in the equipment. And it scares me to have the kids around it. So we might have to just try really hard to get them to go into the chicken tractor at night (now tractor no longer, it sits permanently in the duck yard corner of the garden), and add them to our list of let-them-out-in-the-morning, shut-them-up-at-night chores. Anyone have experience with electric fencing and children?

4 Responses to “…and 5 more.”

  1. Kathleen McFadden Says:

    Remember being shocked by electric fencing more than once when I was a kid. Hated that.

  2. Diana Guillermo Says:

    I’m guessing it wasn’t life-threatening, but did you get burns?

  3. Stacey Says:

    I remember being at a Heifer Project Farm up in New England in High School. A bunch of kids made a human chain. The one boy with the braces held the wire and shocked the other kids. I was too chicken to touch either the wire or the boy.

  4. Kathleen McFadden Says:

    No, but awful and scary.

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