Sitting Ducks


Life and Adventures at Diamond W RanchSince moving to our farm 11 years ago, I have dreamed of having a nice flock of poultry. I have always loved chickens and ducks, and as we take our baby steps toward becoming more self-sufficient, this was one of the bigger steps I couldn’t wait to take. I have always been concerned about keeping poultry alive, however, as the layout of our barnyard is pretty conducive to all sorts of vermin … raccoons, skunks, coyotes, owls, etc. I wasn’t sure it was worth the effort just to prove to the local carnivores that we ran a free meal site.

But, last spring we finally took the plunge. We purchased eight guinea keets from a local feed store, put them in a cardboard box, and moved them into one of our bathrooms in the house. Soon after, the hubby came home triumphantly with eight ducklings, having scored an end-of-season sale in which we got “ducks for a buck!”

Once old enough, we moved the ducks and guineas out to the barn into a couple of our plywood-sided stalls. These made good brooders, and allowed me to escape the twice-daily cleanup. Yeesh, ducks are MESSY!!!

This all went fairly well until we decided the guineas were old enough (fully feathered) to be turned out into the fenced-in barnyard. After all, it was time they started earning their keep by eating the pesky insects in the yard.

I don’t think we ever saw them again. Sigh. Lesson learned.

The ducks, however, have been wonderful. I guess that is kind of an unwritten rule in livestock, isn’t it? The more something costs (or is worth, or is needed), the more likely it is to die, get injured, or become ill. See, the ducks were $1 each. The guineas … well, we invested around $50 in them and didn’t get so much as one feather from any of them. Theory proven.

7/3/2014 9:47:49 AM

Hi there, LJS! I am certain the snake I caught was a black snake, a.k.a. black rat snake. These are quite common in Kansas. I'm including a link to an identification page that shows a great pic of one and they do have a pattern on them. I like snakes, but not in my poultry barn! And yes, this little lady (it was a female) wasn't too happy to have her meal disturbed. But this wasn't a water snake. Thanks for reading!

7/1/2014 10:26:32 AM

Just came across your "Siting Duck" blog. You are holding a long snake which you say is a Black Snake and yes Black Snakes a re generally good around a farm.....I'm not a herpetolgist but from what I see you have yourself a North American Water snake. Was it very aggressive? All of our encounters with water snakes have not been very pleasant. Of course maybe there are mottled black snakes too. LJS

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