Meet the new recruits...

19 January, 2013

I have been quieter than usual on the blogging front this week because I've been busy building housing for my newest project. So no time for taking photos and writing posts.

But I intend to make up for it now, as I have photos galore. Believe me, I am only posting less than a quarter of the taken photos; I could go on forever, pretty much.

Here are the newest recruits to Bek's Backyard (literally, they are in the backyard):


Ducks!

Aren't they beautiful! I'm so excited!

I now have a flock of six Welsh Harlequins; three drakes and three ducks. They are about 10 weeks old (except for one which is almost one year old - you may be able to see one slightly bigger one in the pics) and have come from a lovely flock owned by a lovely couple in Mansfield. From whence yesterday evening I picked them up and drove them to Melbourne in a big box in the back of my car. (Stopping on the way there at a couple of wineries to break up the drive of course, and consequently there was also a box of wine in the boot on the way home...)

So today was the first day in their new digs. I hope they like it.


They will mostly stay in this mini enclosure, but I plan to let them access the main backyard when I'm around to supervise so they will have room to properly stretch their legs.

They seem to like the mini pool from Bunnings (thanks Sam for the tip; pity I found no shell pool, this one will just have to do.) The water was clean this morning, I swear.


They are still a little skittish being in a new place and tend to flock together.


I just love their beautiful plumage.


The one in the front right is my favourite (yes, I already have favourites.)

But this is no philanthropic holiday leisure accommodation, oh no. The plan is for one drake and two or three ducks (I haven't decided yet) to be both egg layers (the ducks of course, not the drake) as well as future duckling providers, and the superfluous two will end up on my table.

I know that's not everyone's cup of tea, but I've been thinking for a while that for me to feel that I can eat meat I need to raise and (as humanely as possible) kill an animal. I was explaining to work colleagues, when it came up as I was telling them what I was doing this weekend, that I feel that for me to be ok with eating meat I need to have the experience of raising, killing and butchering an animal for myself. If I can't stomach that then it feels hypocritical for me to eat meat purely because someone else is doing the raising, killing and butchering and I don't have to deal with it. That is why I picked a breed that are both good layers and good eating.

I really don't know how this experiment is going to go. I have done a massive amount of reading up both on housing requirements for ducks, different breeds as well as how to humanely kill poultry (although my grandmother grew up on a farm and used to keep ducks and geese and she is going to help me). They are at least a good couple of months away from being ready for table (as well as starting to lay, somewhere between 4-6 months) so I know I need to keep firmly in my mind that some of these are for eating.

I do plan on naming them. At first I was going to call them things like Pate and L'orange, but now I'm thinking of naming them after French chefs even though they are Welsh. Escoffier, Bocuse, Careme, Larousse... I need two more names. It's not yet a done deal. I'm happy for any suggestions.


What do they look like to you?

12 comments:

  1. They are so so cute. Well done you for your decision to grow and eat. Mr R and I have discussed getting chickens and/or ducks but feel neither of us could do the kill and as we are both veggies we couldn't eat them. Sigh. Would love them but we will have to think about it.

    Can't wait to see more photos :0)

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    1. Thanks. I suppose you could always have birds purely for egg laying. My grandmother has chickens but on my very short acquaintance I think these ducks are quieter, and I believe they are less destructive in the garden. Oh, there will me more photos, just you wait. :)

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  2. They are very beautiful, their plumage and their orange feet! I love ducks, we had them when I was younger and at home, I love their fussing about and the tail waggle and they way they clean up every snail in sight.

    I too am a meat eater and I too am thinking about what stock animals to get on the farm and how to raise and dispatch in the best possible ways so will follow your story closely. I am contemplating Anglo Nubian Goats that are both for milk and meat (and they have the loveliest ears).

    Most of our grandparents raised their own poultry and dispatched them, its a skill for living that we have mostly lost. My mum does a tremendous role play of going eel hunting with her grandmother and aunts in Gippsland and demonstrates how to dispatch an eel in the best way possible. You of course know that Victorians used to be called 'eel eaters' just as South Australians got called 'Crow eaters'? That's my mum!

    Good luck with your lovelies, I am sure they will enjoy their baby bath and I am sure you will do your best by them.

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    1. Yes, the tail waggle is so cute. Wow, goats. That would be wonderful, and would make some great cheese! Your family sounds amazing, and I didn't know that about the 'eel eater' and 'crow eaters' - you learn something new every day! Hmmm, now I feel like smoked eel...

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  3. They are beautiful Bec, and it looks like an urban duck paradise to me. Just wondering if the fence is fox-proof though? I've seen videos of foxes climbing, and I know Mrs Bok has had a terrible time in Melbourne with foxes.

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    1. Good point. No, the fence isn't fox proof, but I lock them in their duck house each night so they are safe from Mr Fox. Though they are going to require some training in getting into their house each night as they haven't got the swing of it yet and me chasing them around their enclosure each night is going to tire very quickly. I may be amending their house to have a fox-proof wire roof so that I don't have to do the nightly chase. They have a week to learn a night-time routine or next weekend I have building to do!

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  4. They are gorgeous!! I couldn't possibly eat them.

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    1. Yes they are. This may be a more difficult challenge than I originally anticipated...

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  5. Gorgeous ducks! Look forward to hearing more about your adventures with them...particularly with your backyard.... my colleague started off with chooks and expanded with 2 Indian Runners- she found while garden coped with the chooks the ducks upped the level of general destruction 10 fold. The ducks now stay in their own enclosed area.

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    1. When I let them out of their enclosure they will be closely observed I assure you. I won't let them into the proper veg patch until I feel confident they won't eat everything in sight. I'm hoping if I let them out after being fed they won't be too destructive. But I will let you know.

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  6. Just found you and I love that you've taken the plunge and bought ducks. You're so brave. I've wanted ducks for ages but don't have the courage. Please post lots about them and I'd love to know what you read. In regards to names, you could try Brahimi from Guillaume Brahimi and Ducasse from Alain Ducasse. Have fun anyway. Regards Rie

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    1. Cheers, but I'm not sure this is so much brave as ignorant! I will be sure to post lots. And I love the name ideas!!

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