As I have written before, the best gardens are ones that gradually reveal themselves to you. As you walk through a garden, it is fun to come across something unexpected. One of the most common exclamations I hear as I show the garden to first time visitors is “You’ve got ducks!” Introducing Graham and Chedda, my two quackers. I got duckings born on Easter morning for a surprise for a 4 year old son of a friend of mine. Nicholaus loves to spend time in the garden just exploring and being a boy. At first it was too cool at night to leave them outside so they lived in the bathroom until they were old enough. When I let them out to the pond, took it like “ducks take to water”. It was a lot of fun watching them furiously paddling their little feet around the pond. They strengthened their little legs trying to swim up the stream and usually ended in a splash into the lower pond. From these ducklings, only 2 have managed to survive to adulthood. The first suspects were the dogs or the cats although none of them had shown any inclination to harming the little guys. I would just come home and find I had one less duckling with no clue as to where it had gone. The mystery was solved one day when I came home in the middle of the day and spotted a red-tailed hawk perched on the grape arbor looking down on the pond. I jumped out of the truck and threw a handful of gravel at him to scare him off. I have not seen him in the garden since and have not lost another duck.
The type of duck I have is a Call Duck. They are small ducks. Personally I think my garden is too small for large ducks. Think of them as a “Bantam” Duck like there are bantam chickens. They get their name from the fact that they were used as a tame duck that hunters could take with them while hunting. These guys would “call” the wild ducks in. They were small enough to be handled easily. There are several different “types” based on color patterns and I wont go into that here as I don’t know enough about that. You can choose the color pattern that you like most.
Before I had gotten the ducks, I had considered getting bantam chickens. I was doing research and narrowing down my options when the duck idea came up. I wanted chickens to have fresh organic eggs. I’ve been told that duck eggs are edible however a little stronger in taste. Some people don’t like the difference and I may decide I don’t either. I’m waiting until spring and hope to be able to find out. I may be a little disappointed if I don’t like the flavor of the eggs, but I will always enjoy the fun of having ducks in my garden.