Skip to main content

Getting Started with Ducks - Megan from Purple Dancing Dahlias

You might remember that last year I ran a few series of "getting started", where I interviewed other bloggers about how to get started with homestead/farm things, like a vege garden, chickens and a dairy animal.  I had so much fun with that series, I decided to organise another round, but this time I'm asking about things that I haven't tried personally, that I want to know more about.  After the turkey and the guinea fowl turned out to be so difficult for us to manage they made chickens look smart, I thought it might be a good idea to do a bit more research before we get any other crazy animals.  Even though I do search through blogs for information, sometimes my questions just don't get answered.  So I went straight to the source and asked the questions myself.  I'm starting with ducks, but if this works out ok, I think I'll be doing a series on bee keeping and one on fruit trees.  If you are keen to join in, just send me an email at eight.acres.liz at gmail.com.  I will send you my "interview" and share your answers with the world!



Megan from Purple Dancing Dahlias very kindly responded to my requests for help with ducks.  Here are her thoughts on getting started with ducks:

Megan: Our farm is Little Boy Blue Farm, Gardens, and Apiary and I blog at Purple Dancing Dahlias. We keep Jersey Cattle, Scottish Highland Cattle, Icelandic Sheep, pasture raise chickens/eggs, and bees. We also have two farm dogs, two cats, and a horse purely for pleasure. We have had geese and goats in the past. I grew up farming but we moved back home almost 6 years ago and started again.

Farmer Liz: Tell me about your ducks, how many do you keep and what breeds? What do you keep them for? (meat, eggs, other?)

M: Right now we have 8 Khaki Campbell. They are great egg ducks but we have found that they are not great meat birds. They will be going in the freezer this winter only because my husband and I have developed an intolerance to duck eggs.

We have also had Rouen Ducks for meat and they were excellent, both in meat quality and quantity. If we were to get more ducks next year they will be of this breed.

FL: What sort of housing do you provide for your ducks? Do they free-range? Do you have to lock them up at night?

M: The ducks have always free ranged with the chickens and have lived in the same space. When they were near the house we shut their door at night but now that they are at the barn they just go in with everyone else.


FL: What sort of water do you provide for your ducks?

M: They have a crab sandbox that is filled with water at the barn. It's big enough for them to swim and play in but not so big that we can't tip it over every day and give them fresh water. In the winter they have enough water to get their heads wet.

FL: What’s the best thing about keeping ducks?

M: They provide hours of entertainment and are really good in the garden. Last year the ducklings were in the potato patch and took care of all of the potato beetles but didn't harm a single plant.


FL: What do you wish you knew about ducks before you got them?

M: They are messy!!

FL: Any last advice to someone wanting to get started with ducks?

M: We have found that they are very easy to care for but again, are really, really messy!

FL: Now you've got me worried, can you explain messy?

M: They like to rinse their food before they eat it, so especially when they are babies, they splatter everything with food if you keep them in a small brooder area. If they are mama hatched and raise its not as bad.

We have to keep all of our water buckets and tanks out of their reach because otherwise they fill them with dirt and manure trying to separate the grain from the rest of the manure. As long as you take measures to keep them out of water you want to stay clean, then you are good to go.



FL: Thanks Megan!  Its great to read that they really do help in the garden, I was worried that was one of those myths.  Also surprised that you don't need to provide more water for them.  Good to know about the messiness in advance.  

Do you have any comments or questions for Megan?  Head over to her blog to leave her a message.  In the meantime, if you have ducks, bees or fruit trees and would like to answer some of my questions, send me an email eight.acres.liz at gmail.com.

Getting started with homestead dairy
Getting started with homestead dairy - Mark and Kate from Purple Pear Permaculture

Getting started with homestead dairy - Kim from the Little Black Cow

Getting started with homestead dairy - Rose Petal

Getting started with homestead dairy - Marie from Go Milk the Cow

Getting started with homestead dairy - Ohio Farmgirl

Getting started with homestead dairy - Gavin from the Little Green Cheese

Getting started with homestead dairy - interview with myself

Getting started with chickens
Getting started with chickens - Ohio Farmgirl

Getting started with chickens - Gavin from the Greening of Gavin

Getting started with chickens - Madeleine from NZ Eco Chick

Getting started with chickens - Tanya of Lovely Greens

Getting started with chickens - Adam and Amy from Sustainaburbia

Getting started with chickens - Linda from Greenhaven

Getting started with chickens - interview with myself

Getting started with growing vegetables
Getting started with vegetable gardening - Linda of Witch's Kitchen

Getting started with vegetable gardening - Gavin of the Greening of Gavin

Getting started with vegetable gardening - Ohio Farmgirl

Getting started with vegetable gardening - Emma from Craving Fresh

Getting started with vegetable gardening - Tanya of Lovely Greens

Getting started with vegetable gardening - interview with myself



Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Growing and eating chokos (chayotes)

Cooking chokos (not be confused with another post about cooking chooks) has been the subject of a few questions on my blog lately, so here's some more information for you.
Chokos - also known as Chayote, christophene or christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton, chuchu, Cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, Pipinola, pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, güisquil, Labu Siam, Ishkus or Chowchow, Pataste, Tayota, Sayote - is a vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with pumpkins, squash and melons, with the botanical name Sechium edule.


The choko contains a large seed, like a mango, but if you pick them small enough it is soft enough to eat.  If you leave the choko for long enough it will sprout from one end and start to grow a vine.  To grow the choko, just plant the sprouted choko and give the vine a structure to climb over.  In summer, the vine will produce tiny flowers that will eventually swell into choko fruit.  The vine doesn't like hot dry weather.  And it doesn&#…

Making tallow soap

For some reason I've always thought that making soap seemed too hard.  For a start the number of ingredients required was confusing and all the safety warnings about using the alkali put me off.  The worst part for me was that most of the ingredients had to be purchased, and some even imported (palm oil and coconut oil), which never seemed very self-sufficient.  I can definitely see the benefits of using homemade soap instead of mass produced soap (that often contains synthetic fragrance, colour, preservatives, and has had the glycerine removed), but it seemed to me that if I was going to buy all the ingredients I may as well just buy the soap and save myself all the hassle.  For the past several years I have bought homemade soap from various market stalls and websites, and that has suited me just fine.
Then we had the steer butchered at home and I saw just how much excess fat we had to dispose, it was nearly a wheel-barrow full, and that made me think about how we could use that…