What I didn't know about ducks...
So my mom has had lots of chance to repeat this quote over the years, "One duck is a mess but two ducks are three times the mess." I can remember hearing this often when my brother or I would get into some sort of trouble, and we had a couple of baby ducks at one point. I don't remember them being around for too long, or at this point even what happened to them, so many years ago. But I do remember helping take care of them or so I thought. You toss some scratch and chick starter to them, give them a little galvanized water trough to swim in and everyone is happy right? No mess, minimal fuss, and you have the cutest little backyard quackers to entertain you at the end of the day. Boy was I wrong.
It started with an ad online those fatal words, free ducks. Wow I thought who would just give away ducks unless they were sick or something was wrong with them. Nope they were adorable, granted every single one happened to be male, but I could just get some females right, no biggie.
The boys (two gorgeous runners and a pair of black and whites) took a week or so to settle in and they mostly hang around with themselves (or strangely the goats) but everything is great. I expected to see any day my mother's words ring true and I'd go out to pure chaos with wet ducks chasing chickens around a water logged swamp of a backyard. Over a month later and I have yet to experience this and hopefully never. But here is where it all went wrong. "Hunny are we going to get some females so we can get duck eggs or possibly eat a couple of these guys?" Those few words sentenced us to doom.
Oh sure I ordered a handful (4 the same number as the I had in males) from the feed store. I didn't really care about breed as long as it wasn't anything terribly fragile so I settled on crested females. They came in and I was overjoyed. Everyone at the store was peeking into my box to see the cuties and ohhing and ahhing at them like crazy. I was so excited to get them home and put them in their own brooder right next to my special little silkies I got the week before. I looked at the size difference and shrugged it off. I mean I've raised turkeys so I knew the ducks would be bigger than my bantams so no problem right? At two weeks they started to play with their water container and I though okay well they're just outgrowing the brooder and need more room. So I transferred them and the silkies (who still both needed the single heat lamp) to a bigger brooder container. I thought they would be content there for a few weeks til I could move them to a semi outdoor area, big mistake.
Mother's day I wake up with allergy trouble but through the sniffling there is a strange lingering odor. I wonder what on earth it could be it smelled like wet gym socks but surely I was imagining it right? I go out to do the usual morning check on the chicks and when I opened the door, WHOA! Well I had found the cause of the smell and no I hadn't imagined it I only wish I had. So scratch any planned mother's day activities til I take care of this. I quickly divided tasks. I took the chicks and handed the "brooder" and the near spotless ducklings over to my husband. So I know rabbit math goes one plus one equals 5 or more, but duck math is pretty much what my mom had been saying for years... times one hundred. Those adorable little ducklings had made the shaving and their water dish plus the poor silkies into mush covered piñatas, while they themselves looked pristine. We quickly bathed and dried off the poor little silks, who looked much cuter and fluffier after a blow dry. Did I mention they loved the dryer? We separated the poor baby silkies from their tormentors, but what to do about the ducks and making play dough out of their shavings?
Well I'm still searching for the duckling proof water container that will work without leaving their brooding container in a swampy mess, but the mayhem is mostly contained, for now. I still yearn for the day that they will graduate from the brooder and make the successful transition to the yard outside so they won't be quite so much work, but I do admit I love hearing the cute little quacks from the back room during the day.