BYC Member Interview - Amiga


Rest in Peace 1980-2020
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
Raye, (appropriately) known to BYC members as Amiga, has been a member of our community since January 2010. She will most often be found in the Ducks section, where she got known as someone we can always count on for giving wonderful advice and comfort to members who need help with their waterfowl.

1. Tell us a bit more about yourself.

I have a large extended family (54 nieces, nephews, grands, great-grands), and a small immediate family. I enjoy bluegrass (including gospel), old-timey and some folk music. Even a few of the more classical works move me, especially Chopin and Saint-Saëns. Gardening floats my boat. In fact most of what I do is centered around gardens and what goes into them and comes out of them. Recently I earned my Permaculture Design Certificate, what a joy!

To balance out the impression that the above may make, my background is in science and financial applications of computer technology.

2. Why and when did you start keeping ducks?

In 2009, slugs were decimating my vegetable gardens. In casting about for a solution, I rediscovered the works of Bill Mollison. Two things attributed to him kept echoing in my mind. "The problem is the solution. You don't have a slug problem, you have a duck deficiency." I ordered my first flock of ducks (day-old ducklings) in 2010.

3. Which aspect(s) of duck keeping do you enjoy the most?

I am unashamed in my love for my ducks. They are delightful little beings. I know they are ducks. To use a term Joel Salatin has used, I have great respect for their duckness. We are in a relationship. They are therapeutic - my flock's motto has always been laissez les bon temps rouler! So, the relationship is the best part. I learn from them, not only duck husbandry, but the role of hormones in animal behavior (applicable to people), how to roll with the punches, to pursue what is good, to balance work and rest, to acknowledge and appreciate mystery, to be courageous, and more.

4. Which members of your flock, past and present, stand out for you and why?

Since I have had the luxury of time with them since day one, there is not one who has any more personality than the other. For the sake of keeping it somewhat brief, I will share a few vignettes.

Zehn was the first spokesduck, and taught me what that is. She was not the dominant duck, not the leader, she voiced the overall concerns and feelings of the flock. After a year, Zwei became spokesduck. The job appears to rotate through the flock.

Elfie was so very tiny when she arrived, I feared she might not make it. And she was about two weeks slower in development than the others. In ducks, as duck folks know, that is a tremendous difference early on. By the time they hit six or seven months of age, she had mostly caught up, and now one could not pick her out as a "runt." One day I watched Elf spend half an hour going to the food bowl, taking a bill full of feed, trotting over to the swim pan, swishing her bill in the water, running back to the food bowl, on and on, over and over again. Remarkable.

Acht is one of our more outgoing, gregarious ducks. She is brave - will walk up to new people to introduce herself and look the person over. She is the one who, when about two months old, would walk along the temporary fence, one foot stepping on the ground, the other against the bottom of the fence. When she found a bit of the fence with some extra give, she would push herself under the fence - jailbreak! And then others would follow her.

5. What was the funniest (duck related) thing(s) that happened to you in your years as duck owner?

As a very involved first-time duck mom, I was hyper vigilant, staying up late, getting up early, pouring 120% into these ducks (as ducklings). So much could go wrong! One night, perhaps a month in, I could hear them throwing a party all night. Finally, about 2 a.m., I was desperate for them to settle down. I got up, went down the hall and opened the door to the brooder room. Apparently I had failed to close the brooder door in the room they were kept in. I closed the door to the room, but not the brooder, which was on the floor - they could easily walk out. That was by design. There was a large potted plant in the room. I learned then about their special relationship not only to water, but to soil. There was mud just about everywhere they could fling it. And all over them, their bedding, in their water, their food, and they were so very, very happy!

6. Beside ducks, what other pets do you keep?

We have a few cats.

7. Anything you'd like to add?

Just a story - I will try to stick to simple observation and leave conclusions to others.

When we adopted Bean, Hazel and Carmella (buffs), the flock integration was not going very smoothly. Einz would scream (yes, scream) almost constantly at them. She would stand at the divider fence and yell and scream. I stood by, watching this for several minutes, looking for clues and ideas. I walked over to her, placed my hand around one shoulder, and guided her away from the fence, asking her to calm down. This worked for perhaps a minute or two.

She walked back to the fence and began again to scream at the new ducks. Zwei and one of the other ducks walked up to her, one on each side. Each gently took hold of some feathers on Einz's shoulders and guided her away from the fence, released her, and chattered a bit.

Some photo's...

Brooder I, Week 2

Elf, 2014

Zwei und Drei, 2010

Happy Hazel

Elf, 6 weeks

The flock, 6 weeks

Zwei, 2 years

The flock, waiting in the hall for me to finish cleaning the brooder.

See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews:
Thank you so much! I've never owned a duck, and learned some very interesting things about what they are like.
Great interview with a great lady. Thank you.

Ditto this. Amiga was oh-so-helpful to me when I got my very first ducklings...and has continue to be! She's also quite modest...I know that on at least one occasion, she was invited to speak to a good-sized audience about all things ducky!

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