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Duck, Duck, Duck….

October 23rd, 2012

A few weeks ago a friend posted a photo of her Muscovy duck that hatched a bunch of sweet little ducklings. I commented on her photo that I’d trade her some maple syrup for a few and she took me up on the offer. She said that she was actually going to send some from another clutch on my previous trip up to Maine but decided it might be too much.

On Sunday evening, the Chiot’s Run family grew by another 8 members. We picked up the ducklings and are keeping them in my mom’s garage (did I mention we were back in Ohio for a week for work?).

What type of ducklings did we get? Muscovies. I’ve been reading about this variety of duck for quite a while and had planned on adding a few. Getting some this early is a bonus. They’re champion pest controllers and their meat is supposed to be the best for eating as far as duck is concerned.

We’ll see how many of them end up being males and how many females. We’ll keep all the females and a male or two for breeding and most likely the other males will grace our table. It’s fun to finally be able to start realizing some of the dreams I’ve been dreaming for so long.

So, what new feathered or furred friend should we add to Chiot’s Run next?

32 Comments to “Duck, Duck, Duck….”
  1. Gayle on October 23, 2012 at 5:52 am

    You really should consider some Dwarf Nigerian Goats. They are very small (average 70 lbs at maturity) and are full of personality. They give milk that is sweet and high in butterfat. I am making my own cheeses as well as goats milk soaps and lotions which are wonderful for your skin. It would add to your level of self sufficiency AND be loads of fun.

    Reply to Gayle's comment

    • Christine Jones on October 23, 2012 at 10:50 am

      I second this, and as an added bonus, do you know one thing goats love to eat? Poison Ivy! When I used to have a couple goats (they weren’t Dwarf Nigerian, but most goats have great personalities) I would walk them outside their fenced area on a leash just like a dog to clear the yard of any unwanted weeds and most especially the poison ivy. Just make sure they have a STRONG fence, goats are notorious escape artists. ;)

      Reply to Christine Jones's comment

  2. Marina C on October 23, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Dear Susie and Brian,
    I have been away and remiss in commenting. You are doing great things, the podcast is lovely! Very helpful and inspiring, as you can tell from the comments you are receiving.
    To continue in the French vein, I suggest rabbits. They are delicious, the droppings are great fertilizer, and they multiply…. like rabbits!
    I bet you like to do slow cooking, and Le Lapin lends itself to that method perfectly: lapin a la moutarde, sauté de lapin, lapin en cocotte, lapin chasseur. You get the idea.
    I just know you have wild mushrooms out there to go with your lapins!
    Ae you going back to Maine soon? I miss it already. Do you? Then it is really your home now..
    All the best, Marina

    Reply to Marina C's comment

  3. jennifer fisk on October 23, 2012 at 6:15 am

    You should consider meat rabbits. Silver Fox dress out to 65% of live weight and have a lovely pelt. Rabbits are inexpensive to feed and house, requiring minimal effort. Heritage turkeys are another good bet. They are slower to mature than the frankenturks but oh so tasty. In time, you may want to consider a couple of pigs.

    Reply to jennifer fisk's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on October 23, 2012 at 7:21 am

      Funny that you and Marina both mention rabbits. Rabbits are already in the plans. Coincidentally, I would like to raise silver foxes. We are hoping to integrate some vermiculture beds with the rabbitry. The worms can then be fed to the chickens. I love systems!

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

      • jennifer fisk on October 23, 2012 at 8:33 am

        I move my SF buns into my basement from mid Nov until mid April because I have no barn and don’t want to fight frozen water. This means I have to clean out trays about every 5-7 days. I put the tray contents into the wheel barrow and dump it onto my garden. I till it all in in the spring. My garden is teeming with earth worms.

        to jennifer fisk's comment

      • jennifer fisk on October 23, 2012 at 8:35 am

        There are SF breeders in Monroe and Unity so you won’t have far to look if this breed ends up being your choice.

        to jennifer fisk's comment

  4. Kathi Cook on October 23, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Not speaking from experience (haha), a couple of goats would be first on my list for the cheese and milk.

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

  5. Joan on October 23, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Baby ducks are absolutely the cutest critters – I love how they want to go into water almost from the minute they are born. Good luck with them, and share more pictures as they grow!

    I can totally see you with a little milk cow, or goat, making your own cheeses…The problem is that they completely tie you down – you have to be there on time for milkings every day. No more week long trips to Ohio… Maybe you can find a neighbor who has some milk critters with whom you can trade vacation milkings!

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Susy on October 23, 2012 at 7:27 am

      Yes, we’ll have to find someone locally that would be willing to trade farm work with us. We already do have someone in mind!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Melissa on October 23, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Oh I love them! So cute! We should have ducklings again any day now and now I really can’t wait! The two light colored ones are interesting– all 30 of our first clutch were the black and yellow types. Can’t wait to see them at about 4-5 weeks old- that’s my favorite stage, they are so cute when they play in the water at that age!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  7. liz on October 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Susy, I am living my dreams through your blog. I’m loving this new adventure! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply to liz's comment

  8. goatpod2 on October 23, 2012 at 9:01 am

    We raise Muscovy ducks here, but be careful since they have claws on the back of their feet, I have been attacked by the females before and she clung to my chest because she thought I was after her babies.

    They have a wingspan of 6 feet! They multiply fast, we have lots here and they are tough.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  9. BeccaOH on October 23, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Need more Muscovy? I have 3 babies right now. Muscovy will breed like rabbits. One of my hens raised up a group of ten this summer. The eggs are good eating as is the meat, though it isn’t as fatty as other ducks. Cooks up more like goose and you don’t want to over cook it. I’m still learning how.

    Reply to BeccaOH's comment

  10. Johanna on October 23, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Those ducklings are adorable! What an exciting addition.

    This is a wild idea, but I’ve always dreamed of raising bison. Obviously, that wouldn’t work for us on a 3/4 acre city lot, but maybe you could accommodate a couple on the new homestead? They’re such fascinating animals, and their meat is delicious and healthy.

    Reply to Johanna's comment

  11. whit on October 23, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Telling someone else what animals to adopt is a little uncomfortable for me. :) It’s like saying, “Here. You do the (ground breaking) work, and then i can see if i could.” :)

    Animals are a joy though, eh? You’re ducklings are adorable. We have 3 runner ducks, and they are producing eggs faster and more reliably than the chickens! Come to find out though, eating duck eggs makes my lil one and me violently ill. Who knew one could be allergic to one type of egg and not the other?

    Sorry you had to leave you new home so soon. At least you get to soend time with family and old friends though.

    Continued success!

    Reply to whit's comment

    • Susy on October 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

      I’m hoping to add some runner ducks for eggs this coming summer. I love using duck eggs for cooking. It’s not too strange about the eggs, my sister is allergic to duck and chicken eggs but not to goose eggs.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Songbirdtiff on October 23, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Very cool. It’s not good to be a boy in the animal world is it? My son asked our goat milk provider one time what happens to the boys after she mentioned the females are kept for milk. Well, some people eat goat meat. I plan on getting some ducks next spring. They may have told me no about chickens, but there’s nothing saying I can’t have water foul. :) I’ll just get about 4 for eggs and pest control.

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

    • Susy on October 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Plus you can kinda pretend they’re wild and just kind of adopted your garden as their favorite.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Bettina on October 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Young goat, like lamb is actually wonderful tasting meat.

      Reply to Bettina's comment

  13. Melanie J. on October 23, 2012 at 10:07 am

    At least you got these from a fellow farmer, so hopefully they will be better behaved. Muscovies are feral here in Florida, they do breed like rabbits, and the males in particular get really mean. Saw two of them beating the snot out of each other just yesterday! They’ve turned me off ducks forever unfortunately, so I’d appreciate updates on how farming them fares.

    Reply to Melanie J.'s comment

  14. Amy P on October 23, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Watch out what type of a pen you keep them in when they are little. With their claws they can climb walls. We had babies when I was a kid and they were always getting out. We had to put screens on top of their brooder to keep them in place.

    Reply to Amy P's comment

  15. Bettina on October 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Well, there is the possibility of rabbits, as has been mentioned, but with all the land and food you have, I would go for German Giants. They have a nice amount of meat since they are rather large.

    Also, goats have been mentioned and I would go for some that are good both in meat taste and in giving milk. And yes, they are great for weed control and also keep brush tamed.

    Sheep – go for a purebred Finn or Finn cross. Good wool for handspinning, especially if you are wanting to maybe sell to handspinners, good taste for the meat and prolific breeders where quadruplets are common and not a rarity.

    Hmm.. geese, both for good eating, great eggs, pest control and also as “watch” geese for security.

    Dexter cattle, they are rather small but a great dual purpose cattle, both for meat and for milk, with a very good taste. And since you have enough acreage, you can go for grass fed, slow growing, which is a superior taste from grain fed.

    Pigs are also a possibility and I would go for a heritage old breed, either Tamworth or Saddleback if you can get it, they are very good eating and not overly fat. Or go for the cream of the crop and get hungarian Mangalitza. Best pork there is for eating and to make all kinds of salumi.

    As you can see, I have lots of ideas and no space to try them out myself.

    Have fun with all your four and two legged friends,


    Reply to Bettina's comment

    • Susy on October 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      I spent a lot of time researching cattle and Dexters were the variety I’d get if I were to get some. Also a few Scottish Highlands too.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. Mich on October 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Having kept & bred Dexter cattle, and hand milked a cow twice a day for best part of a year; it has to be said….that you need 100% commitment to do home dairying.
    My next step would be buying some weaner pigs for the freezer, great if you want ground cleared and useful for eating veg scraps.
    x many monthes later and they are in the freezer or hanging as yummy hams.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  17. Chris on October 23, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Ditto on the goats…you would love them…so useful for so many things, milk, cheese, soap, brush eaters, fertilizer, for your gardens…their manure, not them! :) And fun! I have Nigerian Dwarfs too, which are a registered dairy breed but being smaller, are much easier to manage, etc.
    Whatever additions you add, Have fun!

    Reply to Chris's comment

  18. Rocky on October 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    If you are wanting duck eggs, then you must consider Khaki Campbell. They are the best layer of all duck breed. We have 4 females, and each of them produced between 350-360 eggs a year for their first two year at our back yard.

    Our problem is what to do with them when they get old and non-productive. Are you OK with butchering them? Although we are not vegetarian, my wife totally detest the idea of killing them to eat them.

    Goat seems to be a favorite. We are thinking that is our next too. Good luck!

    Reply to Rocky's comment

  19. Maybelline on October 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Bunnies. You can’t beat the manure those dudes produce.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  20. Jaye on October 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I’m so excited for you guys! They’re adorable! Congrats :)

    Reply to Jaye's comment

  21. EL on October 24, 2012 at 12:29 am

    I don’t know if I could kill a bunny. They’re too adorable and have great personalities — more like cats than any other herbivore. I suppose that I could kill one if I really had to in order to eat. They get along with cats too, if they are raised with them.

    I have seen people hiking with pygmy goats. the goats had little panniers and so the people hiking with them only needed to carry daypacks. Needless to say, they weren’t dairy goats. I don’t know if you could hike with dairy goats. If you could, you could just take them with you and then offer the milk to other campers. . .

    Personally though, I would get a llama or alpaca. You could get a guard llamas. Or you could get alpacas for the wool. And I love their snotty personalities. Some alpaca breeds are fairly small and would fit in your neck of the woods.

    Reply to EL's comment

    • Susy on October 24, 2012 at 6:34 am

      We’ve been reading up on alternative animals for guard purposes. I’ll have to look into llamas.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  22. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife on October 25, 2012 at 10:40 am

    When we eventually move somewhere with more land, I think we’ll probably go for ducks, bees and rabbits in that order, before possibly starting on bigger, more involved things like pigs or sheep, or goats or a house cow. (I’d love the latter but don’t think we’d be able to keep up with the milking demands.)

    Can’t wait to hear what you choose to go with next!

    Reply to louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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