Thursday, May 5, 2011

The ducklings are coming!

So...I know you have been anxiously awaiting more duck news.  I would hate to have you suffer in suspense.  The verdict is in and we will be getting ducks!!  There are somethings you just can't get in the way of.  I used to think it was a boy and his dog but in our house it's a 9 year old boy and his ducks!

Let me begin by cautioning you that it's not altogether easy to get ducks.  Especially if you want ducklings.  Sure you can order fertilized eggs online but then you've got shipping costs and an incubator to purchase.  The trouble with ordering ducklings online is you usually have to buy at least 12 and the 1-day shipping is $35.  We have scoured craigslist and the internet, talked to the owners of Davis Farmland and everyone said "Klems".

Klems  is a farm supply store in Spencer that carries everything from toys to tractors.  They also have chicks and ducklings in the spring.  We were originally told that they come in around Easter.  We took a trek down there (about 45 minutes) the Friday before Easter only to find a handful of chicks and an anticipated due date of May 1st for the ducklings.  Well, May 1st came and the ducklings still hadn't arrived yet.

I have become good friends with Ralph who is in charge of the birds.  He works 8-12 M-F.  He told me that Klems receives their shipments on Thursdays and Fridays each week.  He said the ducklings should be there at 9 a.m. on Thursday (today).  They were flying in from somewhere.  He ordered a few different kinds but couldn't tell me which would be there until they arrived.

Today is Thursday.  I called at 2:30 to confirm that the ducklings had indeed arrived.  I was told that they had, but that half had been sold already (!).   They had about 30 left.  The person on the phone thought they had Pekins and Indian Runners.  No you can not place a hold on the ducks.  She had no idea if they would have any left by Fri afternoon when we were planning on going down there.

So I relayed the information to T who said "What?!  Do I have to go down there?!".  I told him that he didn't have to do anything....  It helped that it was pouring rain and he was unable to do his planned yardwork.  It also helped that Jack was sitting at the table doing homework with a big grin on his face.  At about 5:00 the troops pulled out of the driveway heading for duckland while I went on to work.

Jack really wanted light-weight (bantam) ducks.  He had his hopes set on Khaki Campbells - small ducks that are good egg layers and good mothers.  I told him to pick me up a black Indian Runner.  In the books, these are weird looking ducks, but I met one in person and he was the cutest thing you ever saw (for a duck).
Alas, I just called the home-front and when they arrived at the store they only had pekins and one mallard to pick from...

Adult Pekin Duck

Adult Mallard Female with ducklings

Jack said he had waited long enough!  And picked three Pekins.  These are BIG classic looking ducks (8-12 pounds).  Not quite what I had in mind...  Cassie picked the mallard which is a much smaller duck - 3-4 lbs.  We will not know their gender until they get bigger, but hopefully we didn't get all drakes (that is duck speak for boy ducks).  T said the rule in Massachusetts is that the minimum number of ducklings you can buy is three.  He had his receipt as proof that we had purchased four so if we wanted to go back and buy another one they would sell us one or two more(?!).  Hmmm, I think I said four not six! 

I actually can't wait to go home (at midnight) and meet the new arrivals.  Jack held the phone out so I could hear them quack (well okay, peep).  Are we prepared for duck ownership you ask...well, not exactly.  We are prepared for ducklings - we've got a plastic tub with a heat light, shavings for bedding, a water container that they can't drown in (baby duck soak up water like a sponge) and chick food and vitamins.  They have to stay inside until they are bigger, which is a good thing since we haven't exactly got the outside pen figured out yet.

I did find a free half-finished dog house on craigslist that I am going to modify into a duck house.  Well, to be honest, my Dad is going to modify into a duck house with my assistance.  We are going to set it up on the existing concrete garage pad to prevent predators from burrowing in.  So we just have to finish the house and buy/install the fence.  Piece of cake, right!
Future Duck House

Note the fancy shed in the background.  Isn't that a beauty?  That's about the kind of duck house I could make.  

I promise to have fuzzy duckling pictures for you tomorrow!  We might even need you all to help us name them.