I spent about three hours today mucking out our duck pen. Its a pretty nasty job that needs to be done more frequently during the wet weather. If my drake, Popeye, could talk he probably would have quoted his namesake and described the duck pen as "absolutely disgustapatin". I made good use of my pile of cedar sawdust in the front yard and put down a nice clean layer of sawdust throughout the duck pen. I also had to do some repairs to the upper support structure of the pen. The new chickens have taken to roosting on top of the duck pen. That, together with the foot of snow we got a few weeks ago resulted in a partial collapse of the duck pen roof. Now that the duck pen roof is fixed I need to modify my chicken pen so the hens can't access the roof of the duck pen.
|Popeye, Olive Oyle, and Sweetpea in their newly cleaned home|
|Clean water in their wading pool is the ducks' favorite part of a clean pen.|
|I was surprised to find eggs this early.|
I am trying a new "permaculture" technique in my garden this year. I'm covering my new garden area with cardboard, covering the cardboard with a layer of old hay, and then topping it off with a layer of compost or duck pen muck. The idea is that the cardboard helps smother the existing grass and weeds while the worms incorporate all of that organic matter deeper into the soil. Supposedly it results in a lot less weeds compared to rototilling.
Its actually somewhat of a labor of love to muck out the duck pen. I wouldn't go to that much work if I didn't really like having ducks. The fact that it all is recycled into the vegetable garden makes the task less painful. I also took advantage of the cleaning to force the ducks to spend a little time foraging in the yard and garden area. This particular trio of ducks are serious home bodies and don't seem inclined to wander around much. I usually have to force them to leave the pen and then they will sneak back in as soon as they can. I would like them to have some supervised foraging time over the next three months in order to knock down our slug and snail population before I plant my garden. I say supervised because I'm not the only creature in the neighborhood that likes to eat duck. Once the garden is planted I can't let them wander about as much. They are too inclined to eat the tender little garden plants or to carelessly trample them while they are foraging for slugs and snails.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find eggs this early. These eggs are a little under sized because these are the first eggs the ducks have laid. I was also very happy that they chose to lay the eggs in their nesting area. Sometimes when a hen duck first starts to lay she will drop the eggs just anywhere, including in the wading pond. Obviously the eggs will be much cleaner if she lays them in the nest rather than just drops them in the mud. I should add some kind of counter widget to my blog that I can use to keep a tally of the egg total for the ducks and chickens. Right now its Ducks 3 Chickens 0.