Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Added Ducks to the Lodi Farm

  I'm sure people are wondering why we bought 9 ducks.  Well, let me tell you.  My neighbor has ducks and I go over there every now and then to retrieve my kids from her house and I always stay and talk for awhile.  Her ducks are so pretty and she told me she is getting a few eggs a day from them.  She proceeded to give me some to try.  First of all duck eggs are extra large in size, packed full of nutrients and as I tried one I realized they are incredibly delicious!  I remember seeing a dozen duck eggs for sale at a local market back in Dallas and they were asking $13 a dozen!!  I decided duck eggs are valuable and therefore, ducks are worth having.  So I ordered 9 ducks to be delivered by mail. I forgot to say that she also told me that they eat lots of bugs and especially grasshoppers when they forage around your yard.  This is a plus for me since we had tons of grasshoppers out here this past summer.

 It was fun to go to the website and find that you can choose the breed of ducks according to their looks, temperament and egg production and of course, availability.  So we chose 4 different breeds all to be hatched on November 10th.

They were sent 2 day priority mail to our local post office and were to be picked up promptly as you would suppose the post office would rather not hold a chirping box with live animals in it for very long.  So on a very cold morning, I received the call at 6 a.m. that our ducks had arrived!  I was so excited as many of my children were too.  I woke up Dominic to go with me to the little country town we live in to retrieve our prized duckling not knowing what in the world to expect.  We'd never done this before. I was just praying they wouldn't freeze to death and would all be alive when we opened the box!

Dominic had done his research and I did too so we were prepared with straw for their bedding, chick feed and a home made water dish.  Oh, and let's not forget the most important heating lamp!  These ducklings were to be kept at 90* for the first week!

2 day old ducklings
 They were so very soft and sweet.  They had a ton of energy and were running around excitedly to be let out of the box.  I was surprised to hear that they chirp just like baby chickens do.  They don't quack. They must develop that deep quack later as adults.

This is their initial habitat but it only last about 5 minutes because we quickly realized that it wasn't deep enough.  They were trying to jump out and by standing on their water dish, they could have easily escaped!  So we emptied a clear plastic storage container from the garage and used that for the first week.  Much better.

Since we got up so early to pick them up, Dominic, Rich and I got to enjoy them while everyone else was still sleeping.  But slowly everyone began waking up and coming out to see what was all the chirping about.  It kind of felt a bit like Christmas morning when you have a surprise waiting.

Julia enjoys animals so much.  I don't think there is one she doesn't like.  One day I found her with her chair right in front of the ducks house doing her school work while watching the ducks.

Baby Pekin duck.

I had read that an old paint tray makes a great bathtub for baby ducks.  We introduced them to water for  swimming on day 4.  They were a bit scared but not for long.  The problem with this was that they kept jumping out and walking around the kitchen floor and when scared they would poop.  So it turned out to be a messy event with water all over the floor mixed with duck poop! It was a new experience to say the least to have ducks running free around the kitchen! So the next day we gave them a bath in the regular bathtub.  

Ducks drink a gallon of water a day when they are full grown.  These little guys drink a 1/2 gallon a week per duck!  That's a lot of water!  So they drink water as they swim to meet their quota. They also have a mucus membrane on the side of their bills that has to continually get wet so they need to be able to dip their entire bill in the water.  I knew none of this before.  It's pretty fun to learn new things.

Each duck needed to be dried off so they don't catch a chill before returning them to their heating lamp. This, I believe, is a Blue Swedish duck.  He, or she, is my favorite.

This is Dominic my other animal lover. He would love to have a whole house full of animals. He has been allowed to have a turtle and a gerbil but if he had his way he would have a pet farm and I'd have cages all over the house!  Can you see the teeny-tiny duck he is holding?  That's about how big they were at 4 days old.

 This is their new home to date in the garage.  After having them in the house for a week and having to change their bedding every day because they soiled it so badly we decided they needed a larger habitat.  So now they have room to run around and we have room to put 2 water feeders in their pen for them.  Now we don't have to change their bedding but every 3 days and they don't run out of water so fast either. This is my compost container that my smart husband reminded me would work just right for them.  It's open on the bottom so we laid down some cardboard and then put the straw on top.

This is where we found Julia with her coat on sitting in a camping chair in the dark with only the heating lamp and space heater on doing her school work.  It's a bit cold in the garage these days.

Today they are almost a 1 1/2 weeks old.  I feel like they are growing right before my eyes!  Each day when I go check on them in the garage, they look bigger!  We decided to take them outside today for an hour or so to see what they would do.  It was in the 60's today so we figured it wouldn't be too cold.
We made sure they stayed in the sunshine.

They were so cute.  They seem to move in a pack and run pretty fast.  They really liked the sunshine and we filled a shallow pan full of water for them so they wouldn't get dehydrated and so that they could get their bodies wet if they liked.  And they liked.

They were in and out of the water dish.  Drinking and fluttering about.  Only about 4 could get in at one time so the others would wait patiently on the outskirts watching.  It was relaxing for us too to sit out in the sunshine watching them.  It's so amazing how ducks just know how to be ducks without any instructions.  

These Pekins will grow white feathers and be a the pure white duck that you are probably familiar with.

I believe this is a Welsh Harlequin but I could be wrong.  We are calling this one Chipmonk right now because of his markings.  He is pretty distinctly different from all the others.  Wonder when he gets his feathers if he'll still have these markings?

This one is the Blue Swedish that I had a picture of earlier.  He or she is changing so much.  Can you see how much bigger they are from just a week ago?  There are two of this breed and they are the ones that have a pink rim on their bill.  One nice thing about ducks verses chickens is that they don't have a sharp beak.  When they eat out of your hand, you don't really have to worry about getting pecked at.

I hope you enjoyed my duck pictures!  I hope to blog about this again as they change and we learn more about them.