For their first year and a half, the ducks spent their nights under our deck, which is nearly a full story off the ground and was already enclosed with chain link fence. (We think a former owner kept a dog under there.)
The ducks look like adults now. Their feathers are all in, and their wings, especially, have grown—as you can see in the photo. Most evenings before we herd them in for the night we let them wander around the yard, and they have started trying to fly. They will run across the yard, flapping their wings and hopping, and occasionally get a few inches off the ground.
They are turning into beautiful ducks. Each brown feather is tipped with white and their flight feathers are partly white, so that they provider a range of colors. From a distance they still appear solid brown, but the closer you look, the more beautiful they are. Until one of them craps on your shoe, anyway.
The ducks are now six weeks old and have been living outside for two and a half weeks. One morning in their fourth week, when I went in to the brooder to take them out to their grazing pen for the day, I found Patsy running around the outside of the brooder peeping at the top of her little lungs. (All the others were running around the inside of the pen peeping at the top of their little lungs. Where the heck is Patsy?) So I picked Patsy and the other six ducklings up, took them outside, and that was the end of life in the brooder.
The ducks have been here three weeks today. They are now living outside in their grazing pen during the day and coming inside at night to stay warm and safe in the brooder. We are securing their nighttime pen this week so that they can move outside for good in a few days—they are getting large and stinky. In the meantime they are enjoying the fresh air during the day and their baby pool, to which they have free access.
This month we took the big leap into livestock with six Khaki Campbell ducks. (Well—seven Khaki Campbell ducks. We got a bonus duckling from the hatchery. We ordered six females, and I’m sure we have six females, but even if we assume the seventh to be male—which he probably is, because males of laying breeds are not of much value to hatcheries—we have no idea which one he is. So we’ll hold off on naming them until the mystery duck makes himself or herself known.)
The ducks arrived at most two days old; I’ve posted a few early photos below. I am building a section of this site for information about ducks, so look there for more photos when it’s up. By Thanksgiving they will be laying eggs—up to 3 dozen a week among them, so we read, but we’ll see. We’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile the garden is doing as well as we could hope given the lack of rain. The soaker hoses have gotten a lot of use, but we can’t keep the cabbage and broccoli entirely happy. On the other hand, we’ve gotten more sugar snap peas and turnip greens than ever before—we have figured out how to grow those, at least, and they seem to be happy with the unusually warm spring.
The ducklings arrive via U.S. Mail from Clearview Hatchery in Gratz, Pennsylvania. Most hatcheries have larger minimum orders, but Clearview would send us as few as six, which is what we wanted. Well, ok: they only charged us for six, but they sent an extra duckling. Number Seven is not marked, so we’re guessing it is female, but when we may find ourselves with a drake when their feathers come in. Until then, there’s no reliable way for an amateur to tell.