Sunday, 16 September 2012
I am desperately trying to avoid puns such as going quackers, hello duckie and so on but today we bought our first ducks. It was a bit of a rushed affair. We had previously planned to get ducks but when we searched around for a supplier, we drew a blank. We then decided to put the plans on hold for a few months and then approach the whole issue from a different angle - we would buy an incubator and order fertilised duck eggs over the internet. The incubator could also be used for rearing quails and possibly turkeys as well.
This afternoon, we headed to the South Causey Inn, about 4km up the road from where we live, to go to the North East Horticultural Society Championship Show, run in conjunction with the National Pot Leek Society Show. We weren't entering any competitions. We simply went along to have a quick look at the enormous vegetables. When we got there we found there was also a poultry show and when we looked around, we discovered ducks for sale. Three point of lay khaki campbells were looking for a new owner and they were competitively prices, compared to what we would expect to pay for hens. So we decided to buy them but had to rush off to get cash and sort out a duck house.
We phoned Durham Hens, from whom we have bought most of our hen supplies and they said that one of their hen houses was suitable as a duck house as well. So we headed over, bought it and on the way back, returned to the South Causey Inn to get the three ducks. There, the seller persuaded us to buy the 5 ducklings in the next cage as well. For £3 each, we thought they were worth the price.They consist of one khaki campbell, 2 aylesbury, one runner and one magpie. I don't know what sex they are but we will find out soon. The adult khaki campbells are one drake and 2 ducks.
Back to the allotment and we put the duck house together and then fenced off the area of the allotment we had already planned for the duck run. It contains the pond. The hens won't approve that the pond has been fenced off. They drink from the pond and also have a taste for duckweed. Much of the area we have fenced off cannot be used to grow crops. It floods when it rains. When we first got the allotment, we tried to grow potatoes there. They all rotted in the ground. The land we have put aside for the duck run therefore is not a loss for our vegetable growing activities. The run however will be temporary. Once the ducks have become established, we will remove the fencing and let them roam free over the allotment.
When we put the ducks into the duck house, they immediately headed off into the duck run. The ducklings stayed with the adults constantly. Whether they like it or not, they have become adoptive parents. I hung around a bit to see if they would use the pond but they all seemed to settle down on the ground (see above photo) so I left them to it. I returned an hour later to encourage them to go into the duck house. It was clear at that point that they had been using the pond. Much of the duckweed had gone.
Getting them into the duck house was something of a challenge. The adults were no bother. They went straight in. The ducklings however scattered to the winds. 2 were small enough to get through the wire netting of the fence. We had an interesting time rounding them up in the semi-darkness. We eventually got them all in. Let's hope we don't have to repeat that exercise!