Saturday, June 6, 2009

Duckling Surprise

Dustin surprised me with four Khaki Campbell ducklings last week. I've been suggesting that we get ducks for a couple years now and Dustin has been adamantly opposed to the idea on account that they would end up being pets, we wouldn't be able to eat them, they make quite a mess, need their own quarters and finally, we don't care for the taste of duck eggs. He has placated me by saying that someday we'll have a more duck suited piece of land with a stream or pond and then we can keep some ducks for enjoyment. I hinted as recently as a month ago that perhaps he might like to bring home some ducklings along with the chicks he was picking up and was once again turned down. Last week Dustin was picking up some Alfalfa from our local feed store and noticed that they had quail. To make a long story short, we had some friends wanting quail for their bird dogs so, not knowing how long the quail would last Dustin brought a box of quail home. We had been calling back and forth arranging how many quail to get and such so I was ready for them when he got in the door. He came in and said, "Wait till you see these guys" and opened up the box and instead of quail, inside were four ducklings. Well I have to say that it was one of his best surprises yet. I squealed.

Dustin said that it was Eliot Coleman's Four-Season Harvest chapter on keeping ducks as garden helpers that finally convinced him. As far as their eggs, we do a lot of baking so using them up won't be a problem. I read that the Khaki Campbells lay close to three hundred eggs a year, which is a lot of eggs! They should quickly earn their keep at that rate. They are already providing entertainment for us all. Noah has been feeding them grapes and other yummy snacks. We put down a small tub of water for them to play in a couple times a day. The picture above was taken the first night we had them. I had just put down a small tub of water and they were all trying to climb in at the same time to splash around. In our research we read that they aren't suppose to have unsupervised access to water as they don't have the protective coating that they would have if reared by a moma duck. So we are careful not to leave their little pool down for too long. I am looking forward to spending time with them outside in the garden and watching them swim around in a baby pool when they are bigger.

We are feeding them the same mix I'm making for the chickens; a mix of corn, wheat berries, oats, barley, flax seed, alfalfa, Alaskan Salmon meal, kelp meal, an herbal vitamin supplement and sea salt. Our feed store carries duck starter feed and I have thought about getting some but I can't help but feel that a whole grain diet must be more nutritious than grain by products processed and repackaged in a tidy little pellet or crumble. They are also enjoying daily fruit and veggie scraps along with some fresh weeds, hard boiled eggs and raw goat milk and cheese. The ducks are probably about two weeks old now and still so cute. I'm looking forward to getting to know their personalities and watching them grow. Hearing their first attempts at quacking and finding out which are mallard and which are females. Hope we have at least two ladies. And finally, thinking of next year at this time when we will have chicken and duck eggs aplenty.

1 comment:

Mount Belly Mama said...

Absolutely adorable! What a nice surprise (and a nice hubby).

Can't wait to watch these little ones grow. :)