We started out 2011 with six ducks – two khaki campbells and one rouen from our very first poultry order in June of 2010, and three rouens (one drake – that’s boy for you urbanites, and two females) from our August poultry order. They had just started swimming in the pond and laying eggs in December, so the ducks were easily winning the favorite farm animal award. Unfortunately, January saw the demise of our drake, who we assume was picked off by a fox. We also lost one of the khaki campbells during the summer, probably to same way. Such is the risk of day ranging birds.
Our nightly routine with the ducks slowly evolved from chase-catch-toss into the house to chase up the ramp, to coax up the ramp with the flicking of a flashlightto finding them already tucked into their nest by the time I came out to check on them to giving up on the whole routine completely and letting them come and go as they please without locking them up at night. This neglect cost us one rouen, but the remaining three ducks now sleep in the water which while not quite as safe as the duck house, is good enough.
At one point, we were getting three duck eggs a day, sometimes even four. Now we are down to one, which we suspect is the khaki campbell. The other two may pick up laying again in the spring, but I don’t really mind. Now that the ducks actually swim in the pond, their aesthetic contribution to the farm is sufficient for a stay of execution.
As for the geese, well, can I admit that I don’t really like our geese? In March, we found a clutch of goose eggs right next to the front porch, but it wasn’t until May that a certain lady fowl decided to attempt to hatch out some babies.
This was a total failure. Lovy finally gave up the ghost in July, after we’d spent two months bathed in the stench of rotten goose eggs exploding in a sulphury stench that lingered in the humid Virginia air of early summer. Besides the whole not having any goslings but instead stink bombs thing, this entire gestational period involved Mr. Goose (Thurston) turning into a testoserone fueled feathery ball of rage. Every morning he would charge my car, chasing me down the driveway and pecking at the driver’s side door until I finally left the property. Alston refused to step foot on our front lawn until the mania passed and the would-be parents headed back to the pond to police the ducks, ending their reign of front yard terror.
In 2012, we’ll order six khaki campbells for eggs and six or more rouens to process as meat birds. We’ll also order three more geese – two as a mating pair and one for next year’s Christmas dinner. We’ll hang onto the Thurston and Lovy if only because they do seem to protect the ducks. That being said, I am eating all of her eggs next year. She has aged out of the gosling business, which will take up in 2013 when our new birds are at the age of consent.