I bought some ducklings about, uhm, a while ago. On a whim, of course. Saw an ad in the local paper & I'm like, I'M ON IT!
About an hour later, $27 lighter, and nine ducklings heavier, I was home with my new Pekin charges.
We had hatched out two mallard drakes from the neighbor's duck eggs earlier this spring and I was hoping to get some duck eggs for eating / incubating. Not so much happening with two males. So at least now I had the missing female piece of the future duck eggs puzzle.
We raised Pekin ducks about 12 or so years ago. I remember them fondly. Well, I was fond of the way they tasted. Smoked duck with an orange / cranberry sauce is absolutely delectable. I think I ate the entire crispy smoked skin from one of them myself. Heaven. Wonderful. Lip-smacking good.
So you may ask why, if they were in fact so delicious, that I waited 12 years to grow out more Pekins?
Because they are freaks.
That first batch of ten Pekins were hand raised by yours truly. I didn't bring them in bed with me, or have tea parties with them, but I was nice to them, even tried (unsuccessfully) to win their affection with special treats. But they hated me. Absolutely, positively, undeniably hated me. Every time I went into their outdoor enclosure they would run as fast as their little flappy feet would take them, right into the corner of the fence, all ten of them vying for the place farthest away from me.....and practically sufficating each other in the process. I fed them. I watered them. I brough them fancy snackies. But they were just the most nervous, noisy, scardy-ducks I have ever seen.
So I was hoping that THIS batch of Pekins would be different. I don't know why I bother hoping for anything. Because they are just as excitable, freaked out and neurotic as those first birds. Except these guys (and hopefully gals) have the run of the entire farm. Paul let them out of their outdoor enclousre one day and they never went back in. How they've escaped becoming coyote or hawk or bobcat meals, I have no idea. We've never had a white hen last more than a few months here.
But all nine of them have survived from Spring, to Summer and into Fall. And they are still freaks.
They do, however, provide a very nice lawn-keeping service. I haven't seen a cricket or grasshopper in any area that they have access to. Not a one. I've watched them for some time and they all stick together and waddle, bills down, across the lawn and suck up anyting that is moving. And they don't scratch up the plants like the chickens do nor crow all freaking day like the roosters. When they get spooked they make Crazy-Kazoo noises, but not so often that it becomes a migraine. Four of the nine ducks are drakes, so all but one of them will become the centerpiece of the upcoming Holiday Dinners. The lucky survivor will have the five Pekin females to look after and hopefully be Ducky Daddy to more ducklings in the near future.
I don't think that we will switch over from chicken to duck (for eggs & meat), but I'd like to keep them around if only to give the gardens an all natural, organic, flappy-footed and kinda-cute insect control team.