After many months of discussing chickens- and being overrun by our neighbor’s flocks- I thought we had a plan lay-ed out. GET IT?
But then my husband started planting the idea: what about ducks?
Ducks? No one has ducks. Everyone has chickens.
Why ducks you ask? What a great question!
Well. In a world covered in chickenshit.. cover yourself in duck shit.
- Ducks are a lot more cold-hearty than chickens are. A lot less worrying about them getting cold or wet.
- Ducks are heartier in general, and get sick a lot less often. I think this was prime in Garret’s planning as he knew if one of my animals died I would pack my bags and move back to Brooklyn in a fetal heap. (not wrong)
- Have you seen a chicken? They’re ugly as sin.
Ducks are beautiful, goofy and terribly sweet. We opted for khaki campbells, which are a little skittish but have a good temperament and are ‘great layers’- a term that has given me endless enjoyment.
Another great benefit of ducks? Duck jokes.
- Unsolicited duck picks
- What the duck?!
- All hands on duck!
- Release the quacken!
Similarly- now when my iphone autocorrects to ‘ducking’.. there’s a 50/50 that it’s actually right!
However, there was a ton to consider in advance. Ducks are an enormous commitment, and should be carefully considered.. unlike when people walk into tractor supply and impulse buy them like SKITTLES.
Ducks need to be raised in a flock, with at least one other duck alongside them, (but ideally two in case something happens to one). As ducks do imprint on each other, if they are then forced to be isolated they will become extremely stressed.
So effectively they eat, shit and have anxiety… ducks are my spirit animal.
How to purchase ducks
We opted to purchase our ducks directly from a hatchery in Pennsylvania. We had limited options considering we wanted a specific breed and wanted only females. Most places don’t ‘sex’ their ducklings- which is less perverse than you would think, and just means figuring out if the duck is a male or female. This is CRITICAL as male ducks are total dickwads and often over-mate their females TO DEATH. Also, their penis is corkscrew shaped which is honestly the stuff of nightmares. Corkscrew-penis-duck-rapists. Nightmare fuel.
We also decided to go to a hatchery because the bins-o-ducks at tractor supply and mail order ducks freak me out. You literally can get hundreds of ducks sent to the post office which sounds about as close to the owlry at Hogwarts as anything else I know of. However magical it might sound, it does involve living creatures spending their first few days alive in a crate being flown across the country. Any company that has a policy where ‘if you get a dead duck we’ll refund you’ is going to be a ‘no’ from me.
We also needed to prepare our home for these quacking, shitting fluff balls. This includes purchasing a brooder, a tarp, heatlamp, pine wood shavings (flake not fine- the fine is too dusty for their lungs), feeders as well as non-medicated chick crumbles. These are the basic staples of ducking around. We also made sure to purchase niacin supplements and everything one might need for ‘duck first aid’ including: gloves, baby nail clippers, small scissors, dropper, Vetwrap & Vetericyn.
We decided, (after much deliberation and my laying the guilt on pretty thick), to keep the ducklings in our guest bedroom. This way we can keep an eye on them and visit them regularly, with a door to keep the cats out. It also is a great justification to rip out the carpet when we’re done! Nothing like the smell of duck shit to motivate some of your home renovation projects!
All of our preparation and research took a few months- truly this is not something we jumped into lightly. Now that all the bits are in place, it’s time for us to take the plunge!