Often times I get an idea for what I want to do, make, plant, design, write, or whatever, and I do it. I am not one to dwell on ifs, ands, or buts.
Sometimes I get it right and it feels super awesome, not gonna lie. Much of the time however it is an initial partial fail or full fail. I jump in full force and for whatever reasons, things just don’t work how I had envisioned them. Sometimes reworking my initial vision helps smooth things out, and other times it is best left as fodder for a bonfire.
So never owning ducks before, we literally built what I drew out on a piece of cardboard, not knowing if it would be suitable for them in all seasons, or what would happen with predators, or a thousand other questions. We read, researched, and I had this idea of what I thought would be awesome.
RECIPE FOR GETTING THIS RIGHT –
Step #1 – Get over being a new duck owner to 15 ducks. They shall be named, The Ladies of the Quack Shack.
Step #2 – My husband built the Quack Shack, so if they wanted a super sheltered space, they would have it, double ramped, vents, kind of ‘duck booshy’ really.
Step #3 – Then we built Fort Duckworth, greenhouse roofing, with open fencing all around the bottom, using visqueen on for the winter, just to keep the winds out.
Step #4 – They have a fenced outdoor yard to use when it is too cold to use the pasture. Their water is in their yard and I often times put straw down so their webbing doesn’t freeze on the cold snow.
Step #5 – DEEP LITTER METHOD – Instead of mucking out their Fort every week, I opted to do the deep litter method. It is 6-12″ of wood shavings, and 6-12″ of straw. It is super fluffy and deep to start with, but every day you turn it like a pancake, and the theory is by spring it will all be broken down and usable as compost for your garden. THE BONUS I was told is as it is breaking down it will start to heat up a bit, adding 10 degrees to your duck area.
Step #6 – Lots of greens, lots of oyster shells, lots of layer feed, lots of fruits and veggies, peanuts and some corn. Everything we feed is wild harvested, organic, or chemical free, and everything is non-GMO.
Step #7 – Water, lots of water, and then lots and lots more water. I haul 20-50 gallons of water a day for the Ladies, 10 gallons at a time, with help from Rhumb of course! My Ladies love swimming and mucking about in puddles, mud, and tubs of warm water. Every morning I make a warm ‘pasture bath’ for them. I have very little problems with egg binding, or other issues. They get their bath, play time, and hanging out to have duck sex ‘pool side’.
RESULTS – It is currently hovering around -1 to -13f, the roof is holding the snow giving it good insulation. The snow banks around Fort Duckworth have built up keeping winds at bay around the edges. And the composting straw is creating a bit of passive heat.
It was -11f when I walked out to feed them this morning, and I will tell you, it was snuggly and awesome in Fort Duckworth. The Ladies were all over, up on straw bale mini forts I built, in the Quack Shack, under the table, in the sheep tank, they were having a ball this morning!
I made a small stone space in their Fort for feeding on super awful weather days, and they are loving it. They usually eat outside each morning, but with these temps it is more of a ‘dining in’ experience.
So I got it right, they are happy and warm, laying eggs, eating like crazy, and still taking a warm bath each morning in their yard.
I never knew how much I would love being a duck person! Nancy