Every since we lost most of our flock to a bobcat, we’ve been wanting to get ducks again. They are so much fun to watch and act very differently from chickens. Weather doesn’t really phase them and they mostly forage for food when there isn’t snow on the ground. Plus you get eggs, although our last group was fairly sporadic.
It’s difficult when you only have room for a small flock as most hatcheries like to ship at least six or seven and we don’t have room for that many. However, we found that Metzer Farms will ship fewer, but there are extra shipping costs for a heat bag and some other things. It’s pretty pricey, so we went back and forth for awhile. Ultimately decided it was worth it since we wanted to choose the breed and the expense over time really isn’t that bad if they all survive.
We now have the fenced-in pasture, so we think they will fare better against predation this time around. Unfortunately the little mini-pond we created is outside the fence boundaries, but maybe we’ll dig that out again and let them free-range a bit in the summer. The field that is fenced also gets pretty wet in the spring, so perhaps there is an opportunity to create a swale or small ditch as well.
Given the recent troubles with the post office, we were a bit concerned about delays. The ducks ship from California. However, they actually arrived sooner than expected, shipped on a Monday and arrived early Wednesday morning. They were in great shape and very active in the shipping container. They all look great so far and are growing like crazy. We’ve already had to take them out of the initial brooder (a stock tank) and put them in our old chicken tractor inside the garage. They still need a bit of heat, but I think even that won’t last much longer. It has been a bit cooler at night here going into fall, so they still need a bit of help to stay warm. They seem to find cuddling together works most of the time though.
We are having a record high February warm-up here in Vermont, with highs in the 60s today. The ducks are having a blast and are so excited to have actual water to play in. It will still be a month or two before we start warming up for good, but at least for today the ducks are very happy to enjoy this while it lasts.
Here’s just a few shots of what’s going on with our gardens and rest of the property near the beginning of June. We had a mild spring that wasn’t too wet and actually got very hot towards the end of May. Just had a nice rainy day yesterday after about a week without, so everything is pretty happy at the moment.
Here’s the back garden in a couple of wide shots.
Those are potatoes in the foreground.
A shot from the front to show off some flowers already blooming.
Hops are already going nuts. These poles are about 15-20’ at the top.
Here’s the front garden. Look how big the garlic is already. It’s pretty happy this year. By the way, all the green is partially due to the cover crop of buckwheat that we are leaving in place for now between rows and where we haven’t planted yet. A bit of an experiment and in some ways makes it harder to see the rows, but hoping the benefits make it worthwhile.
Here’s the orchard. A couple of the initial plantings are finally starting to show some growth.
Here’s a similar shot from around the same time last year. Notice how much we filled in the middle section this spring.
And finally, another shot of the ducks at 6 weeks just for fun. They are now outside in their permanent spot, although not free ranging yet.
Starting note: I know I’ve been negligent at updating this site lately, but hoping to get back into it. Lot’s of stuff going on at the homestead.
We are finally expanding our menagerie of animals here beyond chickens. We actually planned to get ducks last year and then never got to it. I had a duck coop already built a year or so ago.
Last Saturday we picked up six day old Ancona ducklings from a local breeder. Ancona ducks are considered Critical on The Livestock Conservancy breed list and we are fortunate to have some breeders here in Vermont trying to grow the breed numbers. I’m still not sure how many we’ll end up raising, although the idea of breeding a critical breed is intriguing to me. For now we will end up keeping one drake and all the females from this group of 6. The other drakes will end up being delicious dinner at some point. Seems counter intuitive, but part of building a breed is finding more people to raise them for typical use (eggs, meat, pest control, etc.).
Here they are at almost a week old. Growing insanely fast already.