Nothing worse than opening the mailbox and being greeted by a bunch of bills.
Nothing better than opening the garage’s brooder and being greeted by a bunch of bills.
That’s right. We are now are the proud caretakers of six baby ducklings.
Gentlemanly Muscovy Ducklings.
I’d been considering adding ducks to the Homestead for some time, so when our good friends at Shady Coop Farm mentioned they had a broody ducky mama, I quickly called “Dibs” while making a mental note to ask for spousal permission later.
Here are a few reasons why I sought out Muscovy (Cairina moschata) for our specific situation and goals. I will write a follow-up post all about where these guys will call home and how I’m integrating them into my overall Permaculture design… and you’ll see then why some of these are very important to me.
- Muscovies generally require less water (read: pond depth and surface area) to be happy and healthy when compared to other breeds. They do very well with just some large water tubs. At minimum, they need the ability to fully submerge their head to clear food particles out of their nostrils and eyes.
- Muscovies generally are egg hatching machines. They are very instinctive mothers and will set basically any clutch of eggs you put in front of them – no matter if it’s chicken, guinea, quail, whatever. They live to hatch.
- Muscovies are an excellent and delicious source for healthy meat. Since they are such great mamas, and we already have a decently large size chicken laying flock, I don’t care that Muscovy are not the most prolific of egg layers. They will grow up living happily before graduating respectfully to our freezer as a sustainable protein source for our family and extended community.
- Muscovies are known as the “quackless” duck as their vocals are usually more like a soft goose hiss, rather than the loud “quack” my two year old has perfected after much practice. Since we don’t have neighbors right on top of us, this isn’t a huge deal, but I mention it because the primary duck yard will be somewhat close to our house.
- They’re excellent foragers. This is really where they shine once you read (later) what their Homestead chores will consist of.
Besides all that, can you really NOT have a few of these little guys around your place each year?
Yeah, me neither.
So one evening after the kids went to bed and Joanna was tucked in after a long day of chasing and/or nursing said kiddos… I was off to Shady Coop.
Ducks always seem to look smiley and amused, but don’t let this pic fool you… Mama was not happy about our mission.
We safely snuggled all six in for my trip home. Then we humans sat around into the night swapping tips and stories.
You want to hear one more thing about how great Nancy and Paul are? They refused to take any money for the little guys. After much cajoling, I did get out of them that Rain Barrels are on their To-Do list, so I showed up with a bag full of all the parts they’d need to make one from scratch, and made sure they accepted it.
Wonderfully kind people.
Anyway, I returned home… put the Muscovies in their temporary brooder… flicked on the heat lamp… and headed to bed.
The next morning the Wife awoke to meet her new fuzzy friends.
The Boy was (is) overjoyed.
And I guess that “Asking Permission” thing worked out OK, as I haven’t had to sleep in the garage with them yet. Joanna even picked out a favorite, which she nerdily named “One of Six”.
I have very specific instructions she emailed me one morning.
We can’t wait to watch the little guys grow up and get to work.
Question of the Day: Do you keep ducks? Have them in your plan? Have any tips?