Our family grew from 3 (R, Loki, and myself) to 11! There are now 5 beautiful ducks and 3 darling chickens living in The Mansion 🙂
They all came from different places, are different ages and sizes, and even a few different breeds. I love our little mis-matched flock. We welcomed them all to the family within a couple of days of each other, while we were in Denver visiting my family. It was easier to find, specifically, the kind of ducks I wanted in a bigger city than it was here in our little mountain town.
So here are the introductions!
First, came Kachna.
I found her on craigslist in Leadville, CO. The lovely couple that had her meant to get a meat duck, but ended up with a runner duck (they’re skinny and don’t make great meals). So we drove up to Leadville on the way to Denver and ended up spending half an hour or so with this couple who was a lot like us! A garden, chickens and ducks all around. I held Kachna TIGHT in my arms while we chatted because she is strong and feisty! She is a beautiful black runner duck who acts a lot like Amelia. She’s maybe 4 months old now, and will start laying eggs in the next couple of months. She is the brave and protective one of the flock; she’ll stand in front of everyone else and seems to be their fearless leader. She isn’t quite totally trusting of me just yet, but I’ll win her over.
And, in case you’re curious, Kachna is the Czech word for duck, and R is of Czech heritage.
Then, there’s Moonbeam and Midget.
At the same time we were picking up Kachna in Leadville, my brother’s girlfriend was picking up Moonbeam and Midget for us in south Denver. Another craigslist find, this woman was downsizing her flock and these two white runners were for sale. They are about a year old and already laying. These two are skittish but wonderful!
So when we arrived in Denver at my folks’ house, we put Kachna and the white ducks together in our big dog crate we had brought with us. We decided on Moonbeam and Midget for names (they’re named after heirloom melon varieties). We have a feeling they weren’t treated very well before coming to us because they are pretty fearful of us. They don’t even seem to know what “real food” is, i.e. greens and peas and corn and such. Kachna watches out for them and leads them around. Don’t worry, I’ll win them over too… just might take a little longer.
A couple of days later, my Mom, R, and myself went on a drive out to east Denver to pick up a few more additions to the flock. We stopped at a little farm and got two little runner ducklings. I actually didn’t expect to get ducklings that little, but how could you resist?!
The bigger yellow runner we named Sweetness (another melon variety), and the little blue runner is now Ralphie (after the CU Buffs mascot). Little Ralphie was only 2 weeks old when we picked her up!
The lady we got the ducklings from advised that we bring them inside at night for another week or two until they’re a little bigger, and to watch them closely around the bigger females for any possible aggression issues. When we brought them home and introduced them Kachna, Moonbeam, and Midget, this was the scene:
All three of them looked pretty confused. Happily for us, no aggression. By now they’ve all bonded and are one big happy flock.
After we picked up the ducklings, we went to a chicken farm. We picked out two Jersey Giants and R chose a cute little red Wyandotte chicken.
The big black chickens’ politically correct names are Sage and Spruce. Since they are big black chickens though, we secretly call them Shenequa and She-dynasty. Shenequa (Sage) is the braver one of the two. She ate out of my hand very quickly. They make some pretty adorable little cooing noises and they also seem to enjoy the duck food more than they probably should.
Our little red chicken is Cedar. She is little and sweet and darling. She’ll even step up like a parrot if you’re patient enough. When we first brought the chickens to my folks’ house, the black chickens were picking on Cedar, so I decided to put her in with the ducklings, who were in a big cardboard box at the time, to see how they’d do together. The ducklings thought she was their mom, and now all 3 are pretty bonded. Now I think I have a little chicken who’s not sure if she’s a duck or not, and a couple of ducklings who would rather snuggle up with a chicken at night. They’re pretty cute together.
That’s the flock! The drive home from Denver was pretty long and stressful on everyone; we got hailed and rained on and it seemed to take forever. All 11 of us were exhausted by the time we got home. We kept the ducklings separated from the rest of the flock for a few days, by coming inside at night and keeping a baby gate barrier in the coop during the day. Then we came home from work one day and both Cedar and Ralphie had busted out of the baby gate and were just chillin with the rest of the flock, so we figured everyone was probably ok together. Poor Sweetness was stuck behind the gate crying away!
For now, everyone is staying in the coop 24 hours a day, because they aren’t quite sure of me yet. I don’t want to let them out to forage around outside then not be able to get them back in the coop at night. The other challenge so far is the ducks “swimming bowl.” I have a big rubber bowl that I’m using temporarily for their bathing purposes because of both the size of the coop and the size of the ducklings. Of course, that means the 3 big girls make a GIGANTIC mess of their water. Constantly.
I even have a “poultry waterer” that I bought specifically for the chickens, so they can have fresh drinking water while the ducks make a mess of their bowls of water. So far all it does is entice the ducks to stuff it full of straw and dirt so it leaches all the water out in a big muddy, disgusting mess. Next project will be building a little platform for the waterer so the chickens have to fly up to get some fresh water… somewhere the ducks can’t get to.
Having a mixed flock is so entertaining and so wonderful. My heart is just full of joy hearing all their quacks and chirps and coos. We now have somewhere to throw all of our kitchen scraps, weeds from the garden, leftover produce, bugs we find in the garden (except the beneficial ones!) and pretty much any other green thing they might eat. They devour all of it, and in the process, the chickens scratch apart the straw to help it break down and dry out… since the ducks are such a mess and literally get water everywhere.
As far as eggs goes, only Moonbeam and Midget are old enough to be laying right now, but the stress we put them through moving here forced their little systems into molting. So, no eggs until they’re finished molting. Sage and Spruce should start laying in the next few weeks, Kachna and Cedar shortly after that, and Sweetness and Ralphie a while later.
Our project in the next few days is to build them an outdoor run that is connected to the coop. We’ll use our leftover deer fencing from the garden and build a run outside that has a much bigger “pond” for the ducks to swim in (it’s basically a 40-50 gallon stock tank). Also, more foraging opportunities for bugs and weeds and good stuff. And it’ll be a nice transition to them being able to free-forage outside after they get a little more used to the place. Of course, the run won’t be predator-proof like the coop is, so that will be supervised while-we’re-home outside time.
That’s all the updates on the flock for now! The babies are growing fast and now Sweetness doesn’t even look like these pictures. She’s getting her big girl feathers in, and her little voice changed from a chirp to a quack just the other day!
One last funny story. This morning I was finishing up watering the greenhouse and was rolling up a couple of hoses right in front of the coop. I heard quacking and chirping, but it wasn’t coming from the coop. All the ladies were settled down having a nap in the sun. The quacking was coming from behind the coop… and up high. So I’m looking up in the trees, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a Stellar Jay up in the tree, quacking and chirping away. If you’ll recall, last Summer we had a Stellar that mimicked a Red Tail Hawk, which led us into calling ourselves Stellar Hawk Ranch. Are we Stellar Duck Ranch now?!