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Growing Again

May 8th, 2014

Yesterday we headed down to Al’s Quackery in Saco, Maine to pick up 12 Ancona ducklings. I actually ordered these ducklings last year, but a few things happened and the ducklings weren’t meant to be at the time. This year however, it looks like we’re in business. Al gave me a great mix of colors: chocolate, silver, white, black and one crested bird, they should be really pretty when they feather out. This morning they actually headed off to a local preschool for a week so the kids can watch the difference between ducklings and chicks.
ancona ducklings (1)
These ducks are listed in critical condition by the The Livestock Conservancy, which is why I decided on this breed for a small laying flock. These are egg ducks, unlike my Muscovies, they will lay eggs all year long providing delicious duck eggs for all my baking needs. With the ducks I can reduce the number of chickens I have or not worry so much about keeping my flock filled with younger birds. These ducks will pick up the slack for my aging hens.

Do you use duck eggs in cooking? Can you find them in your area?

Too Cute

October 19th, 2013

These ducklings are simply too cute.  I’ve said before that ducklings are my favorite little animals, ducks are one of my favorite adult animals as well.  It’s hard to get anything done around here with so much cuteness walking around.
ducklings 1
ducklings 4
I try to keep an eye on these guys to make sure none of the cats are going after them. Mama duck is one tough cookie, she’s even threatened to attack Tara if she comes too close, but I still like to make sure she’s not getting them too far away. We had an eagle flying very low yesterday and found her with the ducklings way down the driveway. The ducks are the only animals we have that aren’t behind an electric fence for protection. They aren’t behind a fence because they simply fly over it.
ducklings 2
ducklings 3
I love how the immediately take to water, if I had a deep enough pool they’d be swimming already. On a sad note, none of our guinea keets have survived. The cold weather was simply too much for them to handle, which is what I figured would happen.

Could you get work done with these cuties around? 

More Babies

October 16th, 2013

It’s really interesting how things happen around here.  Earlier this summer, our broody guinea and mama duck hatched out their nests on the same day.  Last month, both the guinea and the duck starting sitting on nests once again.  Yesterday, they both had their first hatchlings.  That means we’ll be overrun with babies once again.
guinea meet with mama
When I checked on broody guinea’s nest yesterday I saw an empty egg shell, but no keet.  This little thing was off with the adult guineas pretty far away from the nest.  Guineas are notoriously bad mothers, but I plan on letting her brood this batch.  I will try to keep an eye out to make sure nothing goes terribly wrong, but I want to see how guineas raise their young.  The ones that do make it will be strong little guys and should make great additions to our flock. It will certainly be difficult not to step in though!
guinea keets
When I noticed mama duck off her nest yesterday I decided to check for babies, since last time her eggs hatched at the same time as the guineas.  Sure enough, there were three tiny ducklings and five eggs pipping (there are 15 eggs total in her nest).  If you notice, her nest is in a plastic pet kennel.  These are great to use because they’re easy to clean, have great ventilation, are lockable and they’re easily movable just in case you ever need to move the nest.
baby muscovy ducklings 1
baby muscovy ducklings 2
We still haven’t gotten rid of any of the first hatchlings from these two.  There are 9 ducks (6 male, 3 female) from her first hatch and there are 10 guinea keets that have survived (initially there were 15).  We plan on slaughtering most of the male ducks and a few of the guineas.  The rest will be kept for breeding and insect patrol.  Looks like fowl is the name of the game here at Chiot’s Run!  I’m thinking the future I’m going to have mama duck hatch out some chicks for me.

Would it be hard for you to not intervene to keep the keets safe in the case of our guinea hen and here keets?  


Growing Like Weeds

August 3rd, 2013

If you remember, the first week of July was a busy week with ducklings and keets hatching out within a few days of each other. The ducklings are being taken care of my Mama Duck and she’s doing a GREAT job. Having a good mother is such a time saver when it comes to baby animals.
Growing Like Weeds 1
The keets on the other hand are being mothered by me, not my favorite job. It’s just so much work to cart them in and out. If I wanted to keep them inside or in a brooder all the time it wouldn’t be so bad. But I want them to be able to peck in the grass and stretch their wings.  They’ve learned to fly out of their enclosure, so we’re trying to figure out what to do with them to keep them safe from the predators we have around here (namely foxes, but also eagles and ravens).
Growing Like Weeds 2
One thing I like about summer is that it’s baby season. There are fawns, wild ducklings, little birdies in their nests and wild turkey poults and I’m pretty sure fox kids as well. There are babies everywhere you look!

Have you been noticing little animals out in nature?

We Have Ducklings

July 6th, 2013

You probably remember me mentioning that our lady duck went broody about a month ago and starting sitting on a nest of eggs.  I’ve been trying to check on the nest when she takes her foray out for some grass each day.  Yesterday we peeked in the nest and spotted this:
duckling 2
DUCKLINGS!  There were 5 that had hatched and a few other eggs that were pipped (update: this morning when I checked there were 8 ducklings).  In total there were 12 eggs in the nest, it will be interesting to see how many ducklings we end up with.
duckling 1
I can hardly wait to watch these little guys grow up, they’re so stinking cute!  Ducks are definitely my favorite fowl.

What would you consider your favorite bird? 

Reading & Watching

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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.