Urban Farm lessons are not always easy

We have been doing fairly well this past month or so with keeping our ducks well fed, and well watered, and with a good wind free place to rest and hang out.

We have been teetering between -15f to 40f. So each day we have to re-read the situation and the needs of the Ladies.


The last big cold snap, they for sure weren’t happy about not being able to walk out into the pasture, but they were cozy and doing well with what Mother Nature gifted them.

It warmed up, almost a 40 degree swing, and off to the pasture for splash pool time, hanging out, walking around, sunbathing, and just being ducks.

But something happened in that swing, and we are still trying to figure it out.

One of the benefits of spending time just sitting and observing your animals is you get to know each one pretty well, and you have a good sense when something is shifting. All of my Ladies have names, and I can identify them by their wing patterns, they are all so unique.


There for sure was cold stress on the Ladies, and I thought I had tended to all of their needs, but as the weather warmed I noticed that Cordelia wasn’t moving with the others, or if she was she was way slower. So I kept a watchful eye on her.

I am a believer in observing and allowing self healing with proper nutritional support if possible, I don’t tend to have a knee jerk reaction when it comes to our health, my dogs health, or my ducks health.

But this was new. Definitely the alarms were starting to sound in my mind, something was wrong.

Cordelia started to look a bit ruffled, which isn’t good, but she was eating a bit, and she was drinking, her eyes were bright, no bleeding or foaming, or anything else. I had a sense it was more than just ‘cold feet’ from the snow.

Within 24 – 36 hours she had died. It was that quick.

And then I noticed Farrah and Bean started to exhibit the same symptoms. I was crushed, just crushed loosing Cordelia, one of my adult big brown females, it was a failure on my part I was not going to repeat.

So I ran to my office and jumped into searching out the symptoms, the time of year, and what could be done.

Over and over I kept reading that this was most likely something respiratory, and in a flock it travels fast and you can lose all of your ducks in a super short period of time. Ducks are super susceptible to respiratory illnesses. There was absolutely no good news that I was reading, none.

Then I went to my ‘go-to’ backyard duck blogs, and searched through all of the articles, and there it was, a glimmer of hope.

In my medicine chest for the humans and dogs in my house I do have a great deal of herbs, medicinal berries, teas, raw apple cider vinegar, sodium ascorbate (vitamin C), and colloidal silver. And crazy as it is, but it makes so much sense, this is also almost exactly what backyard duck raisers use for ducks during times of illness.


So I bucked up, tucked my sadness away, and went to work trying to heal my ducks from whatever was trying to set in.

1 T of ACV in their water

1T of Colloidal Silver in their water

Warm oats in the morning with their greens in there so they were a bit mushier, we also have been adding brewers yeast, garlic, and kelp to that, so that remained in there

Layer feed with peanuts in the evening for extra protein and calories

Warm water in their yard tub for bathing three times a day

I cleaned out all of their straw and put down new straw (this slayed me as it was decomposing and breaking down as I read it would through the deep litter method. But since I didn’t know where this illness was coming from, it was hauled out into the pasture, and later next month I will run it through our wood chipper and break it down for compost in our gardens)

Yesterday morning I walked out with my wagon full of water and duck food, my stomach in knots, please Ladies, oh please be alive and standing.


Quacking erupted as I got closer to them, and when I opened the door I did a quick head count, they were all alive. A massive deep sigh on my part. Okay I am on the right path now.

Farrah and Bean were looking ruffled and a bit rough, but they were eating and drinking. So I continued the same protocol throughout the day.

This morning, same thing, we left the house with our duck wagon, it was -7f, and when I opened the door, head count and everyone was alive. Farrah and Bean looked a bit better, and while they still aren’t standing for long, they are eating and drinking, and flapping their wings.

Farrah laying down to eat, Bean is slurping up the warm oats and greens

I will continue this protocol until I see the vibrancy in my entire flock.

While I hear from so many of you of how grateful you are for some of my posts in regards to helping you understand your dog, or your relationship with your dog a bit better, I myself am grateful to the back yard duck blogs while we are establishing our urban farm.

Her appetite is good

So as is always, we all need each other from time to time for different reasons. Our collective voices, whether in person or in written word, are super important. Our Grandmothers took time to share their knowledge on pretty much everything food, family, healing, gardening, and life. We should continue to do the same for each other.

Bernice (white around her neck/bill) is the steady presence of her flock, and she seems to be keeping her own watchful eye on her Ladies. When she goes to rest on the ramp, they all follow.

So, I am far from saying I have success, I am really far from being cocky about all of this, we are still in the very real tender ‘touch and go’ place, and I will be continuing to care for the Ladies until I see no signs of illness at all. If there are Duck Angles out there, please look over my Ladies, it never hurts to ask.




5 Comments Add yours

  1. Dayphoto says:

    The realities of animal husbandry are sometimes so fraught with worry and terror that it is hard to move. But you are doing well, so keep up the good work. Winter is the hardest time of all for poultry. As you well know.

  2. As much as I cringe at the bluntness of that old saying “where there’s livestock there’s deadstock,” I have to admit, it’s true, it happens. The reality of having livestock. Some people would say “take them to the vet.” In my experience, that’s really hard to do with poultry because they can die from the stress of doing that. Your protocol sounds great and I hope you continue to have success with it.

  3. Mail.bresnan.net says:

    So very sorry for the loss of Cordelia. But so proud of you for all you do to help all the ladies of the quack slack get better.

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Poosahkie says:

    Prays said for your girls. Scary when things go down so quickly.

  5. Mickey Maynard says:

    So sorry to read about the loss of one of your ladies. May spring be just around the corner.

    Ed is 3 weeks post op from having open heart surgery. It’s been a busy time here. Ed started cardio rehab. Every day he gets stronger.

    Sent from my iPhone


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