Twice I've purchased 15 ducks for our farm. Initially we were going to use them for meat and eggs, but then I discovered that I wasn't a big fan of duck eggs, and Mike was not a big fan of butchering ducks. I found the eggs too yolk-y, and Mike found the feathers and down too challenging to pluck. So the ducks have mostly been pond ornaments and coyote food. Over the winter, we found ourselves with only two male ducks.
|The bigger birds are the geese.|
I really didn't want another 15 ducks, which is the minimum hatchery order, so when the feed store had ducklings available this spring, I bought five. The only down side to buying them at the feed store is that our only option was white Pekins, rather than some of the prettier ducks available through hatcheries.
Fast forward to last week.
|A Cayuga drake splashing in the water|
Mike butchered the last two male ducks, and the two female ducks were put out on the pond to join the two remaining boys from previous flocks. The boys immediately welcomed the girls by jumping on top of them to breed as soon as they met. The two drakes have been without females in their flock for more than a year, so I suppose I understand their enthusiasm.
|The two new white Pekin ducks|
The geese also seemed very happy to welcome the two new ladies to the pond. The geese are also boys, but they appear to understand they are not the right species for the new ladies. Why do we have so many males? Ever heard the term "sitting duck?" I think the original term was probably "setting duck" meaning that when a duck is setting, it is very easy for a predator to get them. That is definitely what happened to all of our geese.
The ducks, on the other hand, had a bad habit of leaving the secure fenced area around our house to visit the creek. Just as goats know that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, I suppose ducks think the water is bluer on the other side. They do have a nice pond for swimming, but that's apparently not good enough. I do hope these new ladies will stay put where it's safer.
And when we took them out of their little duck house to let them loose on the pond, we discovered that they had already laid their first three eggs. Jane used two of them to make a cake.
Our previous ducks just laid eggs around the pond, making it a real egg hunt every day. Because these were raised in a little house, I am hoping that they'll continue to go back there to lay eggs.