Barnyard revolution, part 2

ducks emerge from their pen

Photo by Kathy

I believe the duck revolution has been quashed.

All day Friday, Eddy and Patsy squawked at each other. When we let them out in the yard Friday evening, Patsy tried to round up the flock and make them go where she wanted. Except for Sybil (who quacked in agreement), no one paid any attention. They went right on hunting for bugs where they were.

That is probably when Patsy’s plans began to unravel. Without popular support, no revolution can succeed. Saturday saw only the occasional argument. On Sunday morning Eddy, asserting her dominance again, led the flock into the grazing pen without my orders. It has been quiet since. Relations in the flock appeared to have returned to normal.

I would make another snide comment about the dismal lack of anatine intelligence, but it occurs to me that this matter was settled after only a week, with no bloodshed and (as far as I can tell) no hard feelings on either side. Meanwhile Israelis and Palestinians, Catholics and Protestants, Sikhs and Hindus, Muslim and African Sudanese have been at each other’s throats for decades, centuries, millenia. I’ll defer judgment on anatine pacifism until I see how our ducks respond to a second flock, but having read the newspaper this morning I’ll keep mum on their intelligence as well.

Fomenting revolution in the barnyard

Eddy has always been in charge of the duck flock. She was the largest as a duckling, the first to get all of her adult feathers, the first to finish molting. She appears to be the smartest of the bunch (not that any of the ducks are particularly smart). She takes the lead when it’s time to go into the pen in the morning or into the house at night; if a duck is lollygagging off by herself, Eddy checks on her to make sure she’s all right and eventually rounds her up. She seems to be a good leader, as ducks go, and she doesn’t even seem to abuse her power by taking the best slugs.

It appears that we may have a revolution in the making. This afternoon Patsy harrassed Eddy mercilessly, chasing her around and squawking at her for the better part of an hour. Sybil, always a follower, joined in and pecked Eddy or no apparent reason. Normally if one of the other ducks gets uppity, Eddy gives her the business, but not today. Kathy felt so bad for Eddy she gave her some chard from the garden, after which Eddy waddled over to Patsy to quack at her about it.

Patsy is the duck who once spent the better part of a week sitting on a pine cone. Now Patsy has always seemed to like me best, but she is just not that bright. (Yes, yes, there’s probably a connection there. I’ve heard it.) So I really do not need to see Patsy in charge. Sybil would only be her toady, but this is the duck that always stands around squawking at everybody; even second in command is too much for her. I’m sure all the other ducks think Eddy’s a narc because she always leads them into the house when I round them up for bedtime, but that’s what I want. I want a nice, quiet, reasonably intelligent, calm, well-mannered duck in charge, not some pine-cone sitting duck who for all I know is out back reading Marx right now.

Could be my imagination, but these ducks seem to be getting bitchier as they get older.


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. Continue reading “Ducks!”