Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lucky Duck Gets Some Friends

 A few years ago my husband and I decided we would get some ducks to raise for meat.  We like duck, and  we're not averse to eating things we have raised.  Honestly, I think that there is no better way to understand animal rights and the importance of responsible husbandry than to be involved in raising your own meat animals.  I have a great respect and love for animals.  My respect and love for them is only deepened in knowing that they make the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Because they make this sacrifice, I am committed to making their lives as happy as possible.  But, I digress....

We bought a breed of duck called "Blue Swedish".  It's a duck bred for meat and egg production.  A wholly domestic dusk.  They can't fly at all.  Actually, most domestic ducks and chickens can't fly.  Partly because they are bred to have a lot of meat and partly for practical reasons.  It's kind of hard to keep an animal around if it can up and fly away anytime.

Our Blue Swedish ducks were great!  They were fun to have around, they were very tasty and, all in all, it was a great experience.  So, last year I decided to get more ducks.  We had a farm, we had a coop, our chickens were doing great..... I felt we were ready to get some more ducks.   So, I started cruising Craigslist.

I found someone selling Muscovy ducks for $4 a duck.  That's a steal!  Muscovies usually sell for $10-15 for an adult.  I didn't know much about Muscovy ducks, but I had heard their meat described as the "veal of duck meat", had heard they were good layers, and also good mothers.  It seemed that Muscovies were the way to go.....

I bought three.  I thought I'd made the deal of a lifetime!  Still thinking I was pretty savvy, I asked the seller if the ducks could fly.  She said they could fly about as well as a chicken.  No problem!  My chickens are good fliers, as far as chickens go, but they can only get a few feet off the ground and can't fly very far.  I've certainly never had a problem with them flying away.  I brought my new ducks home and put them in the coop.

That evening, I headed out to check on my ducks.  I opened the coop door, and the ducks darted out.  I started to herd them back in.  They took off in flight.  Remember how the seller said they could fly as well as a chicken?  Ha!  They took off in a flight that would make an eagle proud. As I watched them fly away over the roof of my two story house, I heard my husband call out "Hey, were those your ducks?".  Yes, those were my ducks.

I searched for them that night, to no avail.  Eventually I went to bed.  There really wasn't much I could do.  The next morning when I got up, guess what I saw in my back yard?  One of my ducks had returned!  I named her Lucky and she soon became a fixture on the farm.  She hung out with the chickens during the day.  She slept with the horses in the barn at night.  Any time I was outside, she was right at my heels.

 But, ducks like to have duck friends.  I wanted her to stick around.  Since she can fly, I didn't want her to fly away looking for a man come spring.  I needed more ducks.

Lonely Lucky Duck

I found a local breeder, and arranged to see her ducks.  Her farm was beautiful and her stock was healthy and well cared for.  I ended up purchasing a young hen and an older drake.  Drakes (males) are similar to roosters in their function in the flock.  A good drake (or rooster) protects his hens and their babies.  Since my birds free range durig the day, I like to have an experienced male on hand.   And, really, who could pass up such a handsome fellow?

OK, maybe he does look a bit like a dinosaur.  Male Muscovy ducks have fleshy growths on their faces, sort of like a tom turkey's waddle.  But look at his lovely plumage.  It doesn't show up as well on camera, but in the sun, all those black feathers turn green and purple!

My new little female is adorable, too.  She seems to be a perfect little lady.  A definite contrast to my brazen Lucky duck.

 Lucky showing her new friend the feed room

She's still a little shy, but I think she'll warm up in time. 

I have learned my lesson this time, also.  I clipped the new ducks' wings as soon as I got them home.  No more fly aways! 


  1. Lucky you to be able to raise your own meat animals. I would like to do that too, but for now, it is just a dream. Your ducks look very happy and well taken care of.

  2. Shannon, I love your ducks and chickens. Across the bridge here in Delaware, one has to have at least an acre for livestock. Five Great Danes, OK. Five chickens, illegal. That's smart politicians running things. So please continue with the bird stories. How about some pigs?

  3. I love ducks, I am a great fan! Do you plan to collect their eggs. Where I know I love to also eat duck, I have never had a duck egg and have heard they can be quiet strong tasting.

    They also make nice pets. Enjoy!

  4. A lovely story about a very lucky duck! I miss having a duck around. Would be fun to have a few here, if I could keep them safe from our marauding predators, besides, their eggs are fantastic for baking!

  5. I really enjoyed your story. Lucky is really lucky if she avoided the cook pot.

  6. Masha- We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to raise livestock. The taste of fresh, free range poultry is unbeatable!

    George- The laws really don't make sense, do they? I can understand not being allowed to have cows on one acre, but what would a few chickens hurt? We've talked about getting a pig or a beef cow to raise. When the kids are older and start getting into 4-H we'll probably get one.

    Jo- Thank you, we certainly enjoy them!

    lifeshighway- Duck eggs taste like..... duck eggs. They're richer than chicken eggs, especially for people who have only ever eaten store bought eggs. I mainly use them for baking, since I don't actually like eating eggs that much. They are superb for baking, though!

    Curbstone Valley Farm- From what I understand, the Muscovies are excellent at avoiding predators since they can fly. Luckily, we don't have any predators besides hawks. I imagine they'd have a bit of trouble trying to carry off one of those ducks, they're big! I can't wait until my girls start laying. Duck eggs make the best cakes and custards!

    gardenwalkgardentalk- Since Lucky has a name she is safe from the pot. We never eat animals with names (we have standards, *lol*). She and her new friends will be used for laying and breeding. Their progeny, however, will be tasty!

  7. Those ducks are great! So, who slaughters -- you or husband? We'd raise them for meat too (LOVE duck) but neither of us can stomach the killing part. ...and thanks for pointing me in the direction of your new blog!!! :)


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