Guineas and Ducks. Our "mini farm" begins.
Well the bird addiction in our family started in July 2008 when my son went to his friend's house. They had guinea fowl that had just hatched, and they were giving their keets away. Knowing that hubby had been talking about getting some guineas to help control ticks in our yard, this was a great opportunity. So I told my son he could pick 2 keets. He chose 1 lavender and 1 pearl gray. When we brought them home my 2 other sons look at me as if it wasn't fair. How do we split up 2 birds between 3 kids. So..... back we went and this time hubby was in tow. Next thing we know we are bringing home another 3 keets. We soon went to our local farm fair where we learned a lot about keeping guineas, and soon the 2 younger boys (12 and 10) decided they wanted to join the 4-H. My youngest son was turning 11 in August and so for his birthday we decided we would look into getting him a duck, as he has always wanted a duck. Finding a day old duckling nearby was not an easy task and in the process of searching found out that we really should have a least 2 ducks, so they would have a companion. So, we turned to the internet. After a lot of research about different kinds of ducks, we settled on Khaki Campbells, Blue Swedish, and f/w Indian Runners. We chose McMurray hatchery as they could be delivered about the time of his birthday. Then there was the little matter that we had to ordered at least 10 ducks, but figured we could find a home for any extra ducklings we didn't want to keep. The morning of 8/11/08 the PO called to inform us that they had our live chicks for us. Ducklings in the mail! How exciting! All arrived safely. 4 Khaki Campbell, 4 Blue Swedish, and 2 no 3 f/w Indian runners. Surprise extra duckling! Now we had 11 ducks and 5 guinea keets brooding.
We lost 1 keet who wasn't growning properly and 1 of our Khaki campbells who got soaked over night, and couldn't get warm. The guineas were beginning to fly. We had them in a large dog crate. And the ducks soooo messy. It's amazing how fast they go through their water. Seems no one told them they aren't supposed to swim at their age. Couldn't wait to get them outside, but the coop wasn't quite ready yet. DH's father was really sick and passed away, leaving no time to get the coop built. We've had them out daily for fresh air, and it's so hard to have to bring them back in. Definitely don't recommend getting birds before a coop is ready. You never know what can happen.
The ducks had their first swim in our hot tub that needed to be drained and cleaned anyway. No, the hot tub was not on. How fun to watch them diving and swimming. They were having a grand time! But boy did that water get nasty fast! Names: Blue Swedish: Ivanna (for I vanna duck), Mimi, Nora and Sophia Khaki Campbells: Taffy, Dana and Billie Indian Runners: Bolt (after the olympic runner), Michaela (after our neighbor who took care of them when we went away) and Meera.
Finally coop is ready, and the birds were more than ready to be outside for good!
Looks like 1 male and 3 female guineas. We decided to name them girls: Halili, Xera, and Remba male: Mawenda
Surprise! looking at the ducks to day, and 1 had a curled up tail! Looks like the extra runner Meera is a drake.
Wondered how they would fair during the winter, especially the guineas, but all did well.
The ducks begin laying eggs. 1-2 eggs a day, then 2-3 egg, to 4-5 eggs and finally now we are getting 8 eggs a day! Unfortunately we lost another one of our Khaki Campbells. We were using a rubbermaid tote turned on it's side for a nesting box for the ducks. The girls didn't really like it though and prefered to did their own nests in the corners of the inside of coop. Well one morning I went out to check on everyone and gather the eggs and found Billie and squeezed herself between wall of coop and tote, laid an egg, and then couldn't get back out, must have scared herself to death. It was a sad day for us all. We have since built a wooden nesting box that is placed so that can't happen again, but no one uses it. It's amazing how many people don't know you can eat duck eggs. My son decided to sell some of our eggs since we are getting so many and there is no way we will eat them all (though we have had a lot of hard boiled, scrambled eggs, omlets, french toast, deviled-eggs and egg salad). He started by handing out samples and so far has sold several dozen eggs for $3/dozen.
4/10 Found the first guinea egg. Really neat! It's orange and dotted like the guineas!
4/12 Broke down and bought a bator. 16 duck eggs and 3 guinea eggs placed in bator. Since it's our first attempt, we explained to the boys not to get their hopes up.
4/14 Our chicks arrive (see other page)
4/15 All of the duck eggs are fertilized! and at least 1 of the guineas eggs is too. If they all hatch, we'll have 4 f/w Indian runners, 4 khaki/runner, 8 blue swedish/runner. Plus the keets.
4/18 A double yolk duck egg! Thought we would place in bator for fun. Then did some reading up on it to find out that it has been done, but very hard to have a successful hatch. Hope we weren't crazy to start this.
4/19 A little tiny egg was found today! Smaller than the guinea eggs. And sort of flat on one side. Read how sometimes after a double yolker, a "fart" egg could be laid, so my son cracked to open to see if yolk inside and there was. Actually looked as if it had embryo in it. Did take pic, have to upload.
4/21 Double yolker is fertilized! Can see the veins from both. Oh boy, here we go.....
5/12 and 5/13 16 of 16 ducklings hatched! They are so adorable. DS wants to keep all of them, but 4 will be all we will keep. The rest he will sell.
Oh, and none of the guinea eggs were fertile. Just waiting on the double yolked egg!
5/16 Well, the news isn't good. We had to go out for a party today, and left the egg looking pretty good. Still movement on both sides of egg. DH came home before I did and found neither side of egg moving, so he opened it up. Both ducklings were fully formed, but neither had absorbed the yolk and neither made it. They were so cute too. Don't know if we'll try again if we get another double yolked egg, but I don't think it will be anytime soon.