Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Duck Sex

When we started adding critters to our farm, ducks were not on our radar.
Our zoo started with a pony. 
A pony that our daughter got for her Make-A-Wish in 2011. 

And since a pony shouldn't live alone, we acquired two goats to be her companions. 

The goats arrived before the pony did. 
And when that pony showed up in the barn the goats were terrified of her!
They are all besties now. 
Then we thought about getting some barn cats. 
So we got four kittens who are now cats.

Cats who spend a lot of time in our house. 
Go figure. 
We've always had a dog or two. 
We are down to one dog at the moment.

Chickens just made sense to us. 
We like to eat eggs and chickens lay eggs. 
So, we bought eight chicks from our local farm store.  
We perused the big metal tubs at the back of the farm store, gazing down at all of the chirpy little fluffy baby chickens. 
We chose our chicks and went home with them in a little cardboard box that Zoe held on her lap. 
They lived in our house for a bit until they were old enough to have grown some feathers. 
They now live in our barn in a fabulous chicken coop my dad built for them. 
We have five chickens currently. 

One chicken drowned in our water trough. 
One was eaten by some creature that was hiding in a bush. 
And one turned out to be a mean ol' rooster. 
He lost his head. 
When you get chicks from anywhere, there's never a 100% guarantee on which sex they are. 
We wanted all hens, but none of the chicks were wearing a pink sweater the day we were at the chick store. 
We ended up with seven hens and one rooster. 
Hens who lay lots of eggs. 
Which is what we wanted all along. 

We eat scrambled eggs.
Fried eggs. 
Hard boiled eggs. 
I make meringue desserts. 
We love eggs!
We spend a lot of time at the feed store since we have these farm critters.
Buying chicken feed and horse treats. 
Buckets for water and bags of dog food. 
Salt licks and hoof picks. 
And ducks. 
We bought ducks.
Because everytime we were at the feed store they were there. 
Looking all cute in their duckling down and with those big ol' duckie eyes. 

And we didn't need ducks. 
Not like we thought we needed chickens. 
Well, ducks do lay eggs, right?
So, more eggs!

Now I don't have the best track record when it comes to knowing the sex of a mammal. 
Most of you know the story of Gigi. 
We didn't get that sexing story right at all!
And the chickens. 
One boy in the mix. 
We didn't want a boy chicken!
And when you buy ducks you aren't sure what you're getting either. 
I ordered four runner ducks from the farm store. 
They don't ask you to check a box stating "male or female" duck. 
You just get a duck. 
And it seems out of our four runner ducks we have...
are you ready for this?
...three male ducks. 
I think Chad's first words upon hearing my declaration of sex were "well, they're completely useless!"
Three boys to one girl. 
Poor Daffy.  
Single white female. 
She has her own male harem. 
You may now be screaming at me "but you'll have lots of ducklings!"
But probably not. 
From everything I've read about runner ducks, they are not good nesters.
They are not, as we in the poultry world say, broody birds. 
Broody birds will sit on eggs in a nest. 
Runner ducks ain't sitters. 
They are runners. 
It's in their name. 
So, we would probably have to incubate eggs if Daffy were to lay fertilized eggs in her future. 
And that's not gonna happen!

We also have two Khaki Campbell ducks.

We have our fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that they are females. 
We currently have no idea if they are.
How can I tell the others are indeed males?
A curly tail feather. 

You read that right, male ducks (or drakes as they are referred to in the duck world) have a curly tail feather. 
I have no idea why. 
It's weird. 
But true. 
And we have three ducks who are bigger, have a grovely quack (another sign of manhood in a duck), and who each have developed a curly tail feather. 

Let's hope the sides even out with the brown ducks. 
Time and a curly tail (or not) will tell. 

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