Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Temperatures are dropping

We are about to have our coldest weather of the season. That means making sure the ducks have water available at all times becomes a much bigger challenge.

I also make sure other creatures are cared for as well. I made a wool cozy from an old sweater sleeve for the hummingbird feeder. I'll bring the feeder in at night so it doesn't freeze, the cozy will help during the daytime hours. 

And being kind hearted, we provide shelter on our front porch for the neighbor's outdoor cat.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Drizzle Takes a Nap

Drizzle is big on napping. I haven't had ducks before so I'm curious to know if some ducks naturally nap more than others, or if there might be some developmental or environmental reason for this. 

Drizzle came from a duck farm as a young adult. The other three ducks arrived at our house at two weeks of age and lived a luxurious life of baths in the bathtub, lots of fresh food and water, and cozy indoor temperatures until they were almost six weeks old. 

The other three will be busy foraging and Drizzle will tuck in for a quick nap nearby. 

What ever the reason, it's adorable.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

What I Take Pictures of at the Zoo

My family went to the zoo for their annual holiday Zoolights. 
I took pictures of an alligator, an iguana, pretty lights, and my family. 
But, most of the pictures were of birds and ducks. 

This little flock of ducks came out to the water when I showed up and headed back to the bushes as I left, my daughter says it's proof I'm the Duck Whisperer. ;) 

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Girls

This weeks I saw Drizzle and Herman in the "pond" at the same time. Herman wasn't at all happy about sharing her boys when Drizzle first arrived, so it's nice to see them interacting without any aggression. Drizzle still tends to wait until the other ducks have had their morning bath before she gets into the pond. However, I have seen all four ducks in at the same time upon occasion. Four large ducks barely fit!  I'm hoping to get the ducks a bigger pond by next spring, if not sooner. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Duck or Chickens? Ducks And Chickens!

Backyard poultry fans often discuss the merits of ducks and the merits of chickens. Should I raise ducks or chickens? My answer is to raise ducks and chickens. Ducks and chickens do have different needs. Understanding how to meet those needs in the same yard will help keep your ducks and your chickens happy and healthy. 

Ducks like it wet. Chickens like it dry. They both need a clean dry place to spend the night. Don't make the mistake of letting your ducks sleep below your chicken roosts, a pooped on duck is not a happy healthy duck. My ducks and chickens sleep in separate houses. Some people keep them together. Either way, both chickens and ducks require a predator proof place to sleep. 

Ducks must have water when they are eating. They use water to wash down their food. Without an adequately deep water source of water they can choke. Chickens need water, but can eat and then drink a little later. They peck their food into more manageable bites. Ducks tend to swallow their food down in whatever size it was to begin with. Ducks make their drinking water VERY dirty and when you dump it out you'll find a sludge of food particles at the bottom. Plan on giving them fresh water at least once a day. Mine get clean water in the morning, in the afternoon, and again at bedtime. If ducks have access to food, they need access to water. Ducks also prefer to have water at night, if you can figure out a system that provides them with water while also providing them a dry nesting spot.

Chickens scratch. This can be helpful in turning bedding and cultivating the garden before planting. However, it can be the end of low growing, easily dug up plants. My neighbor's chickens destroyed the sedums I had growing in a flower bed in my front yard. 

Ducks dabble or drill. See the hole in the straw in the picture below? T
hat is a sign that ducks have been foraging. 
They generally only do this where there is water or loose substrate, 
such as leaves or bedding. 

Ducks will quickly turn any wet area into a mud puddle. 
To avoid your duck area becoming a giant mud puddle you need good drainage, 
and to not live in the Pacific Northwest. 

 Chickens get clean in a dust bath. They will turn any dry patch into a dust bath, 
or you can provide them with a designated container. 
Over at ChickinBoots there's a post about upcycling a dog crate into a dust bath day spa for your chickens that I plan on utilizing very soon.

Ducks need water for their bath. And they will need that water changed often.
How often will depend on the size of your "pond" and how many ducks you have.
If you have drinking water that is separate from the bathing water 
you will have a much easier time keeping the bath water reasonably clean.

Chickens see rain as something to hide from if at all possible. 

 Ducks think rain is the Best Thing Ever!

Ducks or chickens? It's up to you. I think having chickens that scratch and keep the bedding turned is a great balance to the ducks who tend to pack things down. I've raised chickens since I was a kid. Ducks are a newer additions to our yard. So far they've been a delight. Any extra work is easily offset by their cute faces and silly antics. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pacific Northwest Ducks

The Pacific Northwest is a great place for ducks! When it rains they spend the day happily patrolling the yard in search of worms and slugs, while the chickens huddle miserably under the eaves of the house.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Learning about Treats

I saw Drizzle eat a pea! 
She still spit out the corn and after a few peas she moved on.
The other ducks will eat every pea in sight, 
or find everyone one at the bottom of the "pond."
But at least Drizzle is learning what treats are.
Perhaps I need to experiment more to see if there are other treats she likes better.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Lonely One

I try not to put my feelings onto Drizzle. After over a week she's still trying to win over the flock. Then again, it's only been just over a week. Most of the time relations are peaceful, but Herman still let's Drizzle know who is queen of the yard. And Drizzle rarely gets into the "pond" unless everyone else is otherwise occupied. I'm not sure she's lonely, but it seems like she wants to be integrated into the flock. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

While Mom's Away...

This weekend I'm in Seattle with two of my girls to attend Geek Girl Con. My husband and third daughter are home taking care of the ducks. Hopefully while mom's away the ducks will play nicely with each other and the chickens.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wanted: A Bigger Pond

Today I captured the need for a bigger pond in a picture. 
Each duck is by a container of water.
This is as far apart from each other as they ever get.
They like to stay together.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Drizzle Love

Drizzle is still adjusting to her new life. 
She is getting better at noticing when she can slip into the "pond" for a bath.

But she's still learning about treats. 
Today I saw her test a pea with her bill and then spit it out.
 She did the same with a kernel of corn. 
She did eat a few pieces of cat food I scattered on the ground near her.
Dobby is the most accepting towards her, 
but he can still be standoffish. 
She's a lovely addition to the yard.
Another set of wings to admire.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Life as a Backyard Duck

Today Fiona Zecora figured out how to get around the fencing, so it came down early in the day.

The chickens, ducks, and yard cat are all figuring out how to get along. I didn't see any chickens picking on Drizzle. However, she's scared of them. If the other ducks go past a chicken she'll start with her distress call, trying to get them to come back because she won't go past the chicken. 

I managed to get a picture of Drizzle and Dobby together. It's not the best photograph, but hopefully there will be many more opportunities to share what a pair of Silver Appleyard ducks look like as they become more comfortable together. 
Drizzle is still learning what a treat is. Here the others are fishing for greens, while she watches. She came within inches of taking cat food from my hand, but between being leery of people and worried about Herman, who was watching from close by, she shied away. We'll keep working on teaching her about the good things in life, and earning her trust. 

She survived her first night in the duck house. Hopefully each night will be a little more peaceful and eventually she'll feel safe in her new home. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Taking it Slowly

Today the chickens were fenced in so that Drizzle could get to know the other ducks, without having to worry about getting to know the chickens at the same time. 
Fiona Zecora 

and Merida
 didn't appreciate being confined to just half the yard. 

Buff, Broody, and Rapunze, were less bothered.

Drizzle spent quite a bit of time alone or trying to convince the others,
particularly Herman, that she was friendly.

To ease things a bit, I distracted the other three with the hose,

And Drizzle took the opportunity to take a bath.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Getting to know you....

Dobby stops by to say "Hi!" 

Drizzle would really like to be out of her pen and in with the flock. Ducks tend to do everything together. Unlike the chickens, who are often found in different areas of the yard, the ducks are almost always within a few feet of each other. Drizzle gets quite distressed when the other ducks leave her immediate area. Tonight she really wanted to be in the duck house with everyone else. I've made it so that she is right next the other other ducks, and they shifted their sleeping location in the duck house to be next to her, with a wall and screen between them. I'm taking that as a good sign. Hopefully they will accept her fully into the family quickly. I know she'll be much more content when she's wandering with a flock again. 

Drizzle is the embodiment of adorable.

From her freckles

To her tail feathers. 

And she sure will be happy when she can get take a bath in something bigger than a dishpan! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Feather Love

While we were getting Drizzle settled into her temporary run,
Tasha noticed one of her feathers on the ground. 
How sweet is that?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Introducing Drizzle The Duck

She's here!  
Drizzle The Duck

Diana was kind enough to provide transportation
 *and* share her chamomile  tea.

Her first drink of water, ahhhh. 

And then it's time for a bath.

Another sweet face added to the flock. 
Photo credit for all photographs goes to Tasha Kiri
who did an awesome job of documenting Drizzle's arrival.