Quacklings

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I’ve wanted a flock of laying ducks for YEARS.  Supposedly, they are gentler on a yard and garden area — chickens tend to really disturb their free range areas since they dig for bugs and dirt-bathe on a regular basis — but I’ve also read that ducks lay larger and creamier eggs than chickens do.  How delicious does that sound?  We have a great duck habitat here at the farm with a really beautiful, deep pond that’s crowned with an enormous weeping willow (which we call Grandmother Willow).  I can’t wait to watch them waddle and paddle about our property.  They’re going to thrive here.

What stopped me from having laying ducks in Pocatello was a wildly omnipotent next door neighbor who had peculiar animal care habits.  She made it her day job to monitor how everyone on the street was tending to their pets and animals and reported everyone in the neighborhood to the police at some time or another for “animal cruelty and animal abuse” — it was never warranted.  She also trespassed in our yards to tend to our animals while we were away from our properties (on trips to the grocery store or jaunts to different states or countries).  She poisoned plants in my yard that she didn’t like.  She threw loaves of bread over the fence between our properties because she didn’t think I was feeding my dogs enough food.  The list of weirdness goes on and on and to be frank, one of the reasons we sold our property in Pocatello was simply to get away from her.  As some of you know, we were very fortunate to privately sell that property to good friends of ours and they’re now having to deal with the same neighbor issues.

This neighbor also had the habit of buying chicks every spring, or new chihuahua-mix puppies, or kittens, or button quail and she’d have them for a while and then they would mysteriously disappear and be replaced with some new baby critter.  I don’t know what she was doing with them, maybe she was drowning them in her bathtub or simply putting them in her dumpster?  She’d also come over and ask Robert to dispatch the animals she was through with, even if they weren’t sick or injured or suffering.  She’d simply get tired of tending them and want someone to kill them for her.  She once asked Robert to take her sick, blind chihuahua somewhere and shoot it because she didn’t want to pay the vet to euthanize it!  I was horrified on a regular basis.

This is all to say, I was afraid to get a batch of laying ducks while living in Pocatello because I knew this neighbor would find them adorable and get some for herself and then ask Robert to kill them in the fall once they were full grown and she no longer liked them or had the patience to care for them.  I loved our little Pocatello farm house with its incredibly prolific yard and its immediate access to the City Creek trail system but I tell you what, I felt a sort of spiritual oppression while we lived in Pocatello.

Anyway, what I’ve noticed so far about ducklings is they are very active, taking only short sleeps every now and again, they consume a shocking amount of water and I’d describe them (no matter the breed) as eccentric!  They’re hilarious!  Our flock now has 3 runners, 1 Swedish black, 1 pekin and 1 khaki campbell — a beautiful assortment.  The pekin and the khaki campbell are straight run (unsexed) so I’m hoping that one of them is a drake.  We’ll be able to tell as their feathers come in.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that one of those quackers has curly tail feathers!

I have to go to Colorado for work this weekend and I’m excited to go but I’ll be so sad to miss a few days with our baby critters.  They’re already such a part of me.

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Comments

  1. I just love them! What joy!

  2. my dose of CUTE for the day. those eyes!! that fuzzy down! will be looking forward to more photos as they grow and change and begin laying eggs! and swimming in the pond! and keeping you company as you work on the farm!!

  3. They are so beautiful! I am dreaming of having my own little hobby farm one day filled with laying ducks (their eggs are so good!) and maybe a chicken or two, goats, horses, rabbits, anything! We’ve got a good assortment already, despite apartment living: we have a cat and dog, and I recently fulfilled a dream of mine by acquiring a horse. I know that you still have not checked that one off your list, so I hope it happens soon! Animals add such wonderment and richness to life. Can’t wait to see more of your blossoming farm life.

  4. TOOOOOOOO CUUUUTE!!!!! How can you not fall in love with little baby anythings?? Put the kitty in with them and they will all grow to be fast friends. (I just said that like I know what I’m talking about! LOLOL) You and Mr. Robert are going to have such a thriving, sparkling homestead – I can’t help but be excited for you. And hopefully no crazy neighbors to mar the good karma.
    Congratulations on all the new beginnings!

  5. Wow the neighbour from hell, you must be so relieved to be away from her. And those little ducks…they follow humans like their own mother, they are very affectionate. You sound happy, you look happy, you are happy; beautiful photos of those little ducks, very beautiful, have a good time in Montana….and your house is just beautiful (I missed answering the post before that one)

    • We survived her so all is well.

      I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can ducky about on the lawns with them. I put them in the sink this morning for their bath and gave them some finely chopped spinach leaves and they were having the time of their LIVES! Hilarious!

      XX

  6. Your new family members are adorable! It will be fun to see their antics as they grow 🙂
    Good neighbors are truly a gift. We’ve had a very difficult neighbor for several years now. I often have to forgive myself for the thoughts I have about her.

  7. It’s truly spring with all these babies ’round….

  8. Your new homestead is what I dreamt of as a child!!! Including the weeping willow along a pond! Maybe My Girl had some influence 😉 Its all so heavenly

  9. I am curious about the bird dog/poultry combo… Will the chicks/ducks/turkey be penned? My husband wants some chickens or ducks but we have a GSP and Eng Springer. Seems like a bad roommates.

    • We will free range everything. We’ve found once everything is full grown and after we’ve set some rules with the dogs and practiced consistent enforcement of those rules, the dogs leave chickens alone. It also helps that we hunt them a ton on wild birds — they understand the difference between the yard fowl and upland birds.

      • That’s amazing! Ours are not trained to hunt – though we walk them in open fields and they point/flush for fun. Great to know they can learn the difference. Loving your homesteading posts – thanks for sharing your adventure.

  10. such cute babies! we had ducks for over 20 years. they’re so much fun, – lots of personality. a bit vulnerable to predators, though, unless they’re tucked in at night.
    can’t wait to see the horse you find. but you know horses, you can’t have just one…

    • We’re in the process of building them a nice duck castle — a safe night time spot. They’re pretty slow on land, in general. It will be nice when we have the pond filled up again so they have a water escape, too.

  11. Oh my goodness those ducklings are the cutest!!!
    And wow. What a neighbor! No wonder you’re so much happier in the new space!
    I musn’t show Dave these pictures or else he’ll want to get duckies. He had ducks growing up and still reminisces! I do miss holding baby birds on a regular basis. It fascinates me that most people don’t get to experience that.
    Enjoy these baby stages with all the new critters!

    • I learned a lot about humans while living beside her. I won’t tell you I liked it, but it was extremely developmental for my patience and I learned much about how to protect my privacy (which isn’t something that comes naturally to me).

  12. Beautiful ducklings! I am feeling sorry for your friends in the old house!

  13. statuesque ducklings :). thank you and congrats…

  14. I really enjoy reading your writing and viewing your photography and work. I admire your energy. This particular entry turned me off though, and I feel that I must say that your former neighbor may very well have an untreated mental illness. I understand how taxing she was on you and Robert, and how you can now live freely, not having to be under her captive. I know I would’ve struggled with living next to her too. But maybe be gentle with the fact that your former neighbor’s insight wasn’t intact and that she may have chemical imbalances not to her fault.

    • Sorry this entry turned you off!

      I thought I actually was pretty gentle in this post about the reality of living beside that former neighbor — I could have gone even deeper into the details. I agree, she may have been suffering from a mental illness, or…she might not have been. I’ll never know. Maybe my need for catharsis is rooted in selfishness and a shallow capability when it comes to mercy…but if I can’t talk about that life experience in an honest way, here and now, when can I talk about it?

      I am glad to have you here!

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