I think I will just keep the farm animal ball rolling this week. While we’re at it, let’s talk ducks.
Last year I posted some pretty darn cute photos of our ducklings. They were so soft and added quite a lot of smiles at the Easter dinner table when I let one run across. Three inch high ducklings are a force to be reckoned with in the ridiculously adorable animal category.
They were a mess. They love to splash. They love to get their water everywhere, in the food, in the straw, all over themselves and the patient chicks they were housed with in the bathroom. (I think those chicks thought themselves to be ducks.) Finally at five weeks old, the whole crew was placed in the chicken coop in a portable fence so that they could get to know their roommates before running for their life from the older hens.
Doug placed a kiddie swimming pool outside and they spent hours and hours delighting in the water and splashing enthusiastically. Not always swimming, sometimes they would stand outside the pool with their head in the water. As they got older we noted that three were female and we had one male. One drake out of four straight run fowl isn’t bad. I could have as easily had three drakes and one sole girl! He was their protector and would only allow the three chickens that they had been raised with to be near them.
We would come home from a farmer’s market and our intern, Ethan, would casually say, “Ira had Yetta’s head in his mouth again.”
“Ira had Sophia’s head in his mouth again.” He didn’t hurt them but we weren’t sure what the future would bring.
Well, what it brought was a move. A move we had been praying for and that I had been writing about for two solid years. The move to our homestead. More land, more opportunity. Lots of room for animals, right? We moved in the fall during our peak of garden production, farmer’s markets, then transplanting herbs to the new farm, and then a strenuous move. There wasn’t time to build a separate coop for the ducks and we still didn’t know if we were going to let the chickens free range outside their enclosure due to the significant large bird population that lived nearby (owls and hawks don’t mind free chicken). And the coyotes singing in the fields (they like a bit of chicken as well). And Ira with a chicken in his mouth. No, no, that would never do. We couldn’t keep them all cooped up together any longer. So, I sold them for a very low price (as I am so prone to do). They went to live next door to my friend, Lisa. I mourned their absence immediately. I did love the ducks.
So now spring is approaching (oh wait, it’s only January) and I have BIG plans. Do I plan any other way? So we (when I say we, I mean Doug) is going to build a jaunty fenced in run along the west side of the garden where the majority of grasshoppers seemed to be last fall. The ducks will have a job! West border bug patrol, duck manure for the compost, and fresh eggs for the cast iron skillet. They will have their own digs, their own kiddie pool, and their own small coop. Now, I sure hope I don’t get three drakes and one duck egg layer. Let’s go for all four girls!
I miss their quacking on an early summer morning. Their humorous waddles across the grass. The sound of water splashing and raucous playing. A farm without farm animals is simply a garden. I love my gardens and the farm we are creating here and I need my Noah’s Arc menagerie to make it complete.