Oh, the great flock experiment…

Last summer we raised a dozen Pekin ducks for meat. And 3 geese with the intention of having a breeding pair. Well, we learned some things.

1. Butchering ducks in the summer is a hot, messy, unpleasant job. With lots of flies. We became well off schedule (originally intended to butcher at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. …We still have 2 Pekin’s in our backyard, and it’s December.

2. Geese are noisy. With a total rando in the mix (an African Grey instead of the Toulouse I ordered), they were possibly even noisier. The shrill screams of what almost sounds like women, is annoying to hear every time you step into your backyard. I can’t believe the neighbors haven’t done a thing about it.

3. Feeding birds that aren’t doing dick-all for you is unwise. We are not getting eggs in any sense of regularly. There is some thought that they may be laying under the shed, but even when held captive, eggs are not making their way regularly to my plate. It’s like a literal egg hunt, with a dismal success rate.

So we are going to make some changes.

  • The chickens are going. I had chickens before they were cool.
    I’m over chickens. Actually, I still love chickens. But, I don’t love chickens ripping up my basil plants every time I replant them, or ruining my big run at fall gardening. Ours, in our set-up, easily hop over or through the fence – despite all my best attempts to keep them in. And they aren’t laying eggs.
  • We’ll be doing fewer birds, and different times. Now we are talking about doing 6 Pekins starting the first week of February, and then another 6 Pekins the first week of September. It will allow us to butcher during cooler months, and with fewer birds it’s less daunting.
  • We’re reducing the flock yard. With fewer birds, we’re going to take down the current bird habitat down to about a third of what it was. Bonus? We can use that super-rich soil this spring to plant melons, winter squash.
  • A pond? With only ducks, I think we may make an effort to create a simple pond solution that would allow us to pull the plug and drain the water out. Maybe with a stock tank.

It’s always a little hard to admit that what you are doing is not working, but thankfully we are both pretty honest about it all—what works for us and what doesn’t. I get a little thrill about any kind of change, but one that simplifies our set-up into something manageable makes me especially happy—and it a lot of ways gets us closer to a working homestead than doing everything.


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