I just placed the order for my ducklings! Fortunately, my local feed store (Valley Farm Center) allows you to order sexed ducks for a small added fee. I’m going for three fawn and white Indian Runner females.
Besides being incredibly cute and funny to watch, Indian Runners are my favorite ducks to free-range in the garden. Because they are so skinny and upright, they don’t squash plants the way other breeds do, and they are top of the line foragers for slugs. They also lay more than 200 eggs a year, each. When I had ducks before, I never really ate the eggs, because they were almost entirely free-range, and they hid their nests. By the time I figured out where they were laying, the nests were filled with dozens of incredibly dirty eggs. Not exactly appetizing! This time, they will be penned at night and in the morning, so according to the experts, they should lay before they are released out into the garden. Duck eggs are supposedly better to bake with, and better tasting than chicken eggs. I look forward to finding out for myself whether this is true. My ducklings will be arriving on April 17th. So now I have a deadline to finish the coop!
The white male quail, Peabody, was thisclose to being culled…but then I took pity on him – again – and decided to give him one final chance to get his act together. I got to thinking that part of his problem with his females is that he might just be a one-girl boy. When he had three females in with him, he picked on one of the girls. When he was just with Mama quail, they were getting along great, until she died.
So I gave him just one female, and so far, so good. He’s thrilled to have her, and is doing the adorable quail courting dance for her. I won’t be breeding from him, though – nor will I be raising any more Texas A&M quail. They seem to be much more aggressive and difficult in a colony. The calmest and sweetest ones I have are the Golden Italians. When I eventually get down to just one variety, that’s the one I’ll be sticking with.
Speaking of the quail, some friends and I will be doing a program on keeping quail, chickens, and ducks in your backyard. If you’re in the area, it will be at the Mount Vernon City Library on February 9th. I think at 6:30pm. I’ll be bringing in some actual live quail…probably Loki and a couple of his girls.