"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Introducing Dilly & Dolly


Boy - are we having frost this year.

Check out the layer of ice which formed in a puddle of water on RMan's trailer this morning...
Scaallywags inivestigating this new phenomenon in
his life...
.. that ice is roughly 1.5 cms thick!  It has wiped out my sweet potatoes, and is even affecting my peas - for goodness sake!!!!

But, I love the cold :)

On to other things...

I have discovered that I am very slow on the uptake.

Very, very slow.

And I have proof positive.


Well, it has taken me all this time to realise that they aren't "ducks" per se, more drakes.

No bloody eggs is how I figured it out.  And given that they are sexually mature at 18 - 24 weeks...

The past (almost) year has scuttled by at such a pace - I still thought of them as ducklings.  Until I suddenly thought, hang on, they've been here a while - how come they're not laying eggs?  So, naturally, I Googled at what age are quacker ducks fertile.
Curly tail feathers indicate that both of the ducks
are, in fact, drakes!
No wonder they didn't produce any eggs.
I discovered that our two ducks, who have curly feathers at end of their tail feathers, are, in fact not ducks, but drakes.

Idiot.

I need some female ducks.

Our ducks have given us so much pleasure - they made us smile at how they greet us so vocally every time they see us, they've made us laugh out loud whilst watching their comical waddling round the yard and they've helped contain the insect population.

So, what's not to love?

So, the word went out.  Where can I buy some female quacker ducklings?

In May I finally found a lady who lives in the nearby village of Suurbraak. Suurbraak was established as a mission station back in 1812.  The land around the mission station was given to the locals by the Moravian Church and the village that sprang up around the mission station is now inhabited by the future generations of those early members of that mission.  It is a very quaint village - in an extremely scenic setting.  And, as there is very little work / industry nearby, it is a very poor village - with most of the villagers living from hand to mouth.

Anyway, the "duck lady" told me her duck was sitting on eggs, and that they should hatch shortly and be available in June / July.

I booked two immediately LOL

Sure enough when I mailed her, she told me that the ducklings were ready to go to their new home.  We organised to collect them last week on Monday.
Arriving at the "duck lady's" home - this was the
view which greeted us as we stepped out of the car.
The "duck lady" (she also has rabbits) lives high on the north facing hill above the village.  And has a stunning view from her front gate.
This is the duck lady's chicken coop -
quite cute, I thought :)
Just to the left of her chicken coop I spied our future ducklings - nestling in the grass.
Three little Quacker ducklings catching some
rays whilst they nap
I noticed that the one had black spots on its tail feathers.  Ha!  Apparently that is how you identify the male Quacker ducklings from the female ducklings.  And, when the ducks are fertile, they get a black spot on their beaks.
The duckling on the right has the black tail
feathers - so he's a future drake.
Oh man, they were just too cute.  I wish we could've taken the male, but apparently too many drakes round ducks means drake duck fights.  And we have two drakes already.  I hope they remember their long sabbatical and behave themselves in future...

Time will tell.
As soon as we got the ducklings home the drakes were immediately inquisitive.  Walking round and round, and up and down the outside of the duck enclosure - quacking, quacking, quacking...

"What is this?  Oh, my, they are ducks, just like us" seemed to be the translation of all the quacking that was bandied back and forth.
In the meantime, the ducklings weren't fazed by the drakes, and whilst they quacked ever so softly in reply, they acquainted themselves with their new surroundings.  I have been advised to keep them within the enclosure for 7 - 10 days - to acclimatize them to the enclosure, their surroundings and to me.  And to being fed in there - that is so that they happily return to it every night ;)
Inquisitive drakes outside and two curious
ducklings inside
But the drakes - they couldn't get enough of these two new arrivals.  They settled down for a ducknap outside the fence right next to the ducklings and didn't budge - even when I fed them.
Travelling from their old home, arriving at their new home,
and having a quick welcome munch made them thirsty
And the ducklings - they had a munch, they had a slurp - and then a swim, and then they settled down for the night...
On the first night the ducklings refused to even
inspect their shelter, and just settled down
on the straw I had place inside and in front of it.
But, at least they are under cover and protected
from the rain and wind
It feels good.  And it feels right :)
This is where I found them on the second night
- floating in the small pool made out of the
repurposed stainless steel kitchen sink that
we scored off Freecycle so many years ago
Last Sunday I let the ducklings out of the enclosure.

Did she mean to leave the gate open, should I
go outside...?
 At first they were a bit tentative...
Hmmm, it doesn't smell too bad, perhaps we
should venture out...
 ...can I, should I, may I...?
The drakes rushed up to finally meet and greet the
new ducklings
 But, the drakes came to "welcome" them, so they couldn't resist.
...and then proceeded to start nipping at
their tail and neck feathers!
I reckon they thought they had made an enormous mistake...!

The drakes proceeded to make their lives hell for the first 24 hours.  So much so, that I didn't allow the drakes into the enclosure that first night.
Settling down (hopefully) before their insect
hunting jaunt
This morning?  Well, after a nip or two from the drakes, they all seemed to settle down and are travelling all over the land searching out insects...
The drakes are in the front, and the ducklings
are against the fence at the back
...and, after their forage, have even taken up voluntary residence in the enclosure together.

Peace reigns - for now.  But, from what I have read, one of the drakes is probably going to have to find a new home...

And, within the next 3 - 4 months we will (hopefully) have some real (yellow) baby ducklings waddling round the farm :D

15 comments:

Vicki said...

Oh, how much fun is that!! Your new ducklings are beautiful. And so is the village. Good luck in increasing your flock. Can't wait to see new babies.

Dani said...

Vicki - They are cute, aren;t they :)

Yeah, I also can't wait LOL Guess Spring is going to have a completely different meaning this year ;)

Shrimpton and Perfect said...

Sounds like the Drakes were letting the new arrivals know who was boss. You might be ok with two drakes, time will tell I suppose.

Jean x

African Bliss said...

Dani ducks are just to cute....I am hooked after looking at your pics enlarged.

Dani said...

S&P - I also thought so. But I cannot allow the drakes to rip the feathers out of the back of the ducklings necks in a macho display.

I hope they behave. But, if they don't then one will have to go...

Dani said...

AB - I know chickens are valuable for their eggs and fertilizing qualities.

But - ducks have such amazing characters ;) And they're funny lol

Harry Flashman said...

It's not an infrequent occurance here for me to find one of my roosters dead. They fight and kill each other all the time. But I never thought of ducks being that way. After all, who ever heard of a "fighting drake?" But I think , on reflection, that males will always fight over females. People do, so why not ducks?

I sure like the set up you have for your ducks. If they lived here, they'd have to live in a pen and be guarded like Fort Knox. Otherwise, the coyotes, bobcats, and associated smaller predators like foxes would make short work of them.

Dani said...

Harry - Apparently competing males can literally strip the feathers of the back of the ducks necks... :(

They seem to be safe enough. If anything changes then naturally we'll change to a more secure (chicken wire) enclosure. But all seems good now :)

Sandies' Patch said...

Hi Dani,
Thanks for visiting/commenting on my blog.
Love your ducks and ducklings!
A friend has 4 hens and 2 Embden geese (they have blue eyes) and will be getting ducks shortly. She lost all of her hens,ducks, geese to fox attack last year, devasting! Now security is much better.
I had my 2nd egg yesterday morning, so it would seem they like it here enough to lay eggs so soon!
Hope you are not too cold out there!
Sandie xxx

Dani said...

Sandie - Welcome - and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment :)

We have seen A (single) fox around, but, with the owners dogs in the area, I reckon the fox is wise to stay on the perimeter and not wander to the centre of the human occupied territory as their life expectancy may be shortened LOL I'm not sure if he / she attacks those properties on the edges...?

Robyn said...

Hi Dani! Re acquainting myself with blogs again. Love your ducks! In my experience with owning ducks I discovered you need one drake for every 3 ducks otherwise the ducks suffer. One on one or two means exhausted and often ill or injured ducks :(. Observe which drake is gentlest with the ducks and calls them over when he finds food as he will be the one to keep. Have fun as ducks can be just as entertaining as hens!

Dani said...

Robyn - Glad to see you're OK - long time no see :) Yeah, I know I need to get rid of one of the drakes, I just don't know which one... And, I can't bloody tell them apart LOL Maybe I need to splash one with food colouring ;)

Quinn said...

I only have experience with roosters, but I've learned to play it by ear but with no tolerance for behavior that doesn't improve mighty quickly. I've heard of two roosters getting along fine in a small flock, with the more dominant rooster even looking after the other. And I've had roosters that were very protective toward the hens as well as respectful toward humans, which is what I want in a rooster. But sometimes a too-aggressive (IMO) rooster will pull the feathers out of a hen's neck or just be too "attentive" and make the hens' lives miserable. A rooster like that lasts about 72 hours here.

Quinn said...

I recommend blue! :)

Dani said...

Quinn - The drakes are still trying to nip the ducklings, but the neck feathers are still OK. I have been separating the drakes and the ducklings at night - so I reckon that gives the ducklings a bit of a breathing space ;)

Getting rid of one of the drakes will be effected if they start to do any visible damage, and so far there seems to be an equal attitude by both drakes. Idiots!