Oh, Duck!

Around here, some things are meticulously planned, and some things are, well, kind of spur of the moment.  For example, the tiller we bought tonight was planned.  We saved our money to buy a decent one, went with a model and company we like, and we have been in need of our own tiller for a couple of years now.  This spring, my Hubby “tilled” the garden by hand, using our heavy duty pitchfork to turn the soil.  That is why we have about a third of the produce growing that we did last year.  Now we can finish the garden and plant a bunch of food.

The ducks we bought last week, however, fit more into the spontaneous category.  We have talked about getting ducks and were in agreement that next year was the year for ducks.  That all fell apart during a trip to Rural King for chicken feed.  They had 5 Rouen ducks that were a little older than the brand new ducklings, and they were on sale.  We looked and talked, and walked over to the canning section so I could get lids, looked at gardening supplies, checked out cat food, put our chicken feed in the cart, made it almost out of the poultry section and stopped to look at the ducks again.  And we talked about getting ducks some more.  And looked at more chicken supplies, and finally, we grabbed a box (we quit letting the employees hand us our birds a long time ago), and picked out two ducks.  We headed to the check out lane and brought our new birds home.

We already have brooders, so we just set one up and the ducks adjusted very quickly.  We have to change their water about 10 times a day, so a vacation while these crazy birds are stuck in the house is not going to happen.  And we had to grab some duck feed, but since Purina makes a non-medicated multi species flock feed, we did that, and the chickens will be happy too.  When they are feathered out, our new ducks will spend their days chilling with the chickens, free ranging the yard eating bugs and swimming in their pond that is under construction.

What do you do with ducks?  Well, they lay eggs, which are buttery and taste mostly like a chicken egg.  And if we got really lucky, we have a male and a female (a drake and a duck if anyone’s interested) and they will give us sweet, adorable baby ducks.

Were they a spur of the moment decision?  Yes.  Will they be more work?  Of course.  But are they worth it?  Absolutely.  We knew we would be getting ducks at some point; duck egg production doesn’t slow down in the winter like chicken egg production does.  They are tasty (sorry babies, but it’s the truth).  And they are hilarious.  Don’t discount the entertainment value of livestock, it’s part of why we do what we do.

The tiller will be useful tomorrow.  The ducks will start paying their rent a few months from now.  But they are a part of our homestead now, and each piece that comes together makes our farm a little more complete.  Our dream farm and the farm that we eventually have might not be the same, but they will be pretty close, and one day I hope to be sitting on my porch with a cup of coffee watching our ducks play in the pond.



Chicken Zen

I think every time I sit down to write, I start by exclaiming that I am so much busier than I was the last time I sat down to write.  And that will probably be the case for the next couple of months, since it is the season for growing, tending and harvesting food.  We have started to get a couple of tomatoes, and berries.  We also got our very first chicken egg last week.  I was so excited.  My sweeet hubs brought it in, thought about it, and took that egg back to the nest box.  Not because he thought the chickens might try to sit on it, but because he wanted me to be the one to find it.  Hey, if there was a bush that grew ammo or the expensive coffee we like so much, I would do the same thing for him.  Both of us have been pretty busy lately.  His shop has been blowing up with orders the last few weeks, and we routinely have 3-4 packages to ship out every week.  I couldn’t be prouder of him for sticking with this, even when it got frustrating and it seemed there was no progress being made.  I have been working the same amount, but I feel busier.  We may be busier at work, I may just not be sleeping enough.  That, and my bad shoulder hurts more lately.  You would think a nurse would know when to go see a doctor, but you would be wrong.  We are the last people on earth to go to a doctor.  All of this has led to being more tired, which is a common theme in modern society.  But this is the worst time to lose all my mojo!  We still have a chicken run to finish, and the garden to, well, garden.  And next year we are planning on having two pigs, so there’s a lot of work necessary to getting the yard done for them.  A pine tree to cut up, fruit trees to plant, and the endless mowing.  And that’s only outside.  I’m getting tired just thinking about it all.  When I find myself wearing out, or mentally shutting off, I just go sit with the chickens.  I would have never guessed that just the simple act of chilling with some feathered dinosaurs would lift so much weight right off my shoulders.  And you’ve never really gardened until you have gardened with a chicken.  Sure, they eat the bugs, but they also will knock down a tomato plant, crush two onions and snap off a green bean plant in the process.  Girls if we don’t have any produce, you’re going to have to up the egg production.  Plus, a couple of those birds eat our tomatoes.  Not even the pretty red ripe ones.  Heck no, those heifers go straight for the green tomatoes so we don’t even get half a durned tomato.  To be honest though, I wouldn’t trade our girls for the world.  And on a pretty evening, sitting in the shade in the backyard with my hubby and a cool glass of water, there’s nothing more soothing than a chicken on my leg, just chattering away about the day’s gossip.