Fowl-Mouthed Gardens

Why are our ducks so happy?

We practice “pasture shifting” with our flock. This means that we put up temporary fencing around grassy areas of our property (usually about 2000 square feet or more at a time) and let the flock out on it during the daylight hours. The ducks are tactical in their attacks against all sorts of insects flying by, hiding in the grass, and even burrowed in the ground. The geese graze on greens and keep the yard trim (goodbye lawnmower!). Together, they fertilize the earth and prepare it for future greenery to grow. When they exhaust the plants and bugs in the pasture, we move them onto a fresh part of the land (this usually takes about two weeks, give or take). New life springs up on their old pasture and they repeat the process on the new one.


Where happy birds make delicious eggs

At night, the birds wait eagerly outside their duck yard as we prepare their dinner. We fill several troughs with GMO-free, soy-free grain mix purchased locally from Sunrise Farm in Stuarts Draft ((You can find details of their food here: www.sunrisefarm.net)). The ducks are then let inside to eat, and are locked in their secure pen during the night hours.


Well, that covers pasture and food, but what about their water?


Anyone trying to sell ducks will tell you they don't need pools to live. This is ture--they only need water deep enough to dunk their bill so they can keep their nares (nostrils) clear of debris. While they don't require pools for their survival, they absolutely thrive when they have access to them.


Our ducks have access to water constantly, even at night. They love nothing more than to splash around in our kiddie pools. Occasionally we bring out our extra large pool, so deep they cannot touch the bottom when it's full. The ducks take turns swimming in it, and the second a duck leaves the pool, another jumps in to have a go.


That said, ducks are extremely messy with their water. There is a reason some duck owners limit access to it. Water must be changed several times a day. Ducks are quick to muddy pools and waterers, and when they're poured out onto the grass, ducks will drill into wet soil with their bills and destroy anything that might be growing (not to mention put a bunch of holes in the ground). The solution is to let them ruin part of the land, then re-seed it after they're moved onto new pasture (if that option is available), or use buckets to scoop loads of water out of the pool and distribute it where the ducks cannot play in it (we pour it over our garden beds as mucky duck water makes great plant fertilizer!).


So, if pools are such a hassle, why do we bother? We deal with it because it brings the ducks so much joy. We are absolutely committed to giving our ducks the best life they can possibly have, and in turn, they make for us delicious, nutritious eggs that are beautiful inside and out.