The Duck ‘n’ Buck Yard

Apr
18

There are ducks on our pond again!

The duck ‘n’ buck yard is a little fantasy I concocted last fall, dreaming of a way to keep the bucks near the house instead of in the bottom pastures as well as a way to get the ducks back on the pond. Year before last, we lost all but one of our Pekins. I don’t know for sure, but I think they drifted away, lured by the siren song of the river. We put our one remaining lonely duck in the chicken yard where she dreamed her own little dream of having duck friends once again. Last spring, we got three new Pekins and three Rouens. After they came out of the brooder, they, too, went to the safety of the chicken yard. By fall, I was dreaming of this duck ‘n’ buck yard.


Which is actually a duck ‘n’ buck ‘n’ guinea ‘n’ goose yard, but that’s a mouthful.

Several people have asked why a duck ‘n’ buck yard, is this common practice, what is the theory behind this combination? As far as I know, this is just my own wacko idea. It’s based in part on convenience and efficiency of the use of space and materials, but also in large part on my observation of the chickens who free-range and roost on the goat pen gates. We don’t have a big predator problem around our goat yard and chicken house. (We did have one raccoon attack a couple of years ago, but in the scheme of things, we’ve been pretty fortunate in that area.) We’ve never even had deer get in our vegetable garden–and that’s rare around here. I believe the reason for all of that is the proximity to the house, the dogs, and the presence of larger animals in the goat yard where the free-range chickens roost. (The goats and sometimes the donkeys and cows.) So along with the convenience and efficiency of space and materials, my theory is that keeping the bucks in the same field with the ducks will act as a protection to the ducks. And at the very least, the ducks, hopefully, won’t get out and run away to the river.

Beginning of March, as we were gathering materials to get started:

The duck ‘n’ buck yard encompasses our pond, which is fed from springs on our hill.

It drains down to the river below, which keeps the pond from flooding.

The pond will make the ducks ecstatic and keep the bucks in water, too. (No running hoses or carrying water! It’s not a deep pond and can be broken up in winter, too.) The hillside will provide ample play area and pasture ground for the three permanent bucks–Eclipse, Rhett, and Mr. Pibb. (We currently have five but two–Sailor and Pirate–are temporary, waiting for sale. “Little Bear” is still in the goat yard with his mama, Sprite, but is also for sale.)

These photos show the progression of the work on the yard in the past six weeks. The entire area (pond and hillside that has been fenced in) is about 12,000 square feet. A smaller area around the pond plus some pasture was sectioned off to contain the ducks with welded wire that has smaller openings so they can’t slip through it. The goats have access to the entire area enclosed with woven field fence.

The sectioned-off pond yard (area goes up the hill for the ducks):

The goats have access back and forth from the sectioned-off pond area to the entire hillside area by a stile that they can maneuver but the ducks cannot.

Here, the duck ‘n’ buck yard was nearing completion.

The smaller wire was installed along the lower edge of the field fence in the ducks’ section of the yard, and framing went up for the buck house.

Two spools are used to construct the stile to allow the bucks to go back and forth from the ducks’ pond yard to the rest of the fenced area.

Each spool is on a separate side of the fence.

Getting ready to put the roof on the new buck house:

And now the roof is on:

The last touches aren’t quite finished–the buck house still needs a floor and sides, but it’s not cold anymore and they can shelter from the rain by snuggling under the house, so this weekend, we had the big moving party. I shut the door between the chicken yard and the chicken house, trapping the ducks and unfortunately also about 8 or 9 chickens inside the chicken house and set to catchin’. With ducks, guineas, and chickens all flapping in circles, it was a wild job. I captured two or three at a time and stuffed them in a cat carrier for the trip to the pond.

They thought they were dying, headed for the big boiling pot in the sky. Er, kitchen.

Boy, were they surprised when they were dumped out at the edge of the pond aka duck heaven instead.

Then the task of bringing up the bucks one at a time began. Morgan, who usually sits in the back of the truck and holds on while we transport animals back and forth from top to bottom on the farm was NOT HERE. There were NO child-like people available AT ALL. I should have had more children, but it was too late to fix that, so I had to get in the back of the truck with the horned beasts myself. FIVE trips up the hill. Before I go into too much whining, let me just jump ahead and say, they’re in there now.

And I immediately went inside the house and took a shower.

By the way, no matter how well you think you have something set up, nothing reveals the flaws in your design like actually putting the animals in there. The goats showed us right away that they would get up on top of the duck house and be able to jump out of the yard.

Suzanne, what is wrong with you? Have you never met a goat before? Yeah, we should have thought of that one. The duck house was quickly moved a few feet back from the fenceline.

It took the goats no time at all to figure out what the stile was for and they started jumping back and forth between the pond yard and the enclosed hillside at their pleasure.

This tree is at the far corner of the outer buck enclosure. You can also see the proximity to the house in this picture.

The ducks are laying eggs willy-nilly all over the place instead of in their duck house. I’ll have to call a meeting.

Whenever they can squeeze me into their new busy schedule in the pond yard.

Old worn out glider bench in the back of the truck, headed for a shady spot outside the duck ‘n’ buck yard:

It will be nice to sit and watch the ducks and bucks and guineas. (And someday soon, the geese, too!)

Perfect.

The duck ‘n’ buck yard is in business!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on April 18, 2011  

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Comments

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  1. 4-18
    4:13
    am

    Love your idea, especially separating the ducks from the chickens our chickens HATED the ducks and geese we have because ducks and geese are messy!! So we had to separate them. One thing I don’t understand though is why you put the guineas w/the ducks/future geese? Guineas don’t like water or ducks for that matter :) Just curious :)

  2. 4-18
    6:00
    am

    Awww those are some happy ducks and bucks :)

  3. 4-18
    6:10
    am

    Lisa, the guineas killed a chicken in the chicken yard one time. They seem to get along better with the ducks.

  4. 4-18
    6:24
    am

    Cool Idea!
    Granny Trace
    http://www.grannytracescrapsandsquares.com

  5. 4-18
    7:31
    am

    So nicely written, we loved reading every word. We also like your idea of the advantage of a smaller space, so that all the animals can be together and protect each other. We shall be continuing to read about your ecosystem:)

  6. 4-18
    7:46
    am

    What a great concept-Duck n’ Buck-..love they way you designed it with the pond and river in mind. I used to think that I wanted to live on a big farm and have tons of animals, just like you…the time and energy ran out years ago, but I “live on a farm,” everyday, when I read your posts, see all of your great pictures, cook up all of the fabulous recipes, etc. Thank you for sharing your life!!

  7. 4-18
    8:46
    am

    Great idea! And great pictures!
    A question, what kind is the duck in the first picture? Because I thought it was a wild mallard at first, it looks just like the wild ones we have here.

  8. 4-18
    8:48
    am

    brookdale, that is a Rouen. Rouens are a domesticated Mallard breed. They’re larger than Mallards and they can’t fly.

  9. 4-18
    8:52
    am

    That looks awesome! I have one question, which has been bugging me since you first announced your plans. Are you concerned about the higher concentration of “raw manure” that will be in the pond and then draining into the river below? Or maybe you have few enough animals in there that it’s not really a concern…

    I’m really just curious, as water quality issues vary from region to region.

  10. 4-18
    8:59
    am

    Everyone looks quite happy.

    Which magnificent goat is that on the roof?

    Anyone giving odds on how long it takes a duck to get over the stile?

  11. 4-18
    9:13
    am

    They’re going to have a blast! A new jungle-gym/fence stile for the goats to climb around (two if you count the duck house!) A splash and paddle pool for the ducks and geese. I see a lot of fun games of duck, buck, guinea, goose happening!

    My guineas are roosting fine in the chicken coop so far but they’re young and it’s still chilly so I foresee them taking to the trees this summer. The funniest thing is watching them stalk the cats. They do NOT approve of the cats being outside and they start to advance on any cat they see as a group. The cats are terrified!

    I predict a lot of fun days sitting out on that bench with a glass of wine, watching the duck, buck, guinea, goat show!

  12. 4-18
    9:38
    am

    I recently talked with a lady who said they just filled in their pond because of the problems with cleaning it. It made me wonder if a kiddy pool would be a good solution for a small duck family. Are you going to put some fish in there to help clean it?

  13. 4-18
    9:42
    am

    Thats a mouthful, buck, duck, guinnea, goose! What fun to get a project finished on a farm. Congratulations! :happyfeet: Wonderfully nice photos as usual.

  14. 4-18
    9:47
    am

    I think I would be concerned about the area of the pond versus the quality of the water in that pond. It seems it may get contaminated for the goats. I know we always had clean fresh water for our herd animals. Is there an inlet and outlet for the water or is it just stagnant water?

  15. 4-18
    9:55
    am

    It says in there that the pond is spring fed with an outlet that eventually leads down to the stream. From what I can see, there’s some distance and while 6-8 ducks aren’t ever going to be clean, out in the country, it’s hardly a problem when there’s lots of wild animals, including Canada Geese and wild ducks too and plenty of distance for nature to take care of things.

    A major flock would surely be a problem, but that many? Doubtful. Just my opinion of course, but I live on a river where I’m used to keeping the flow of the water in mind at all times.

  16. 4-18
    10:07
    am

    A thought. Maybe, you should have the pond water tested to see if the purity is good enough for drinking. Especially if this is the only water the animals are going to be drinking.

  17. 4-18
    11:37
    am

    Hello! Gotta say, this yard looks adorable. Can’t wait for the stories. By the way, who’s “Little Bear”? I must have missed that post. And how is Dr. Pepper? Thanks!

  18. 4-18
    11:46
    am

    A lot of work for you, but well worth it to see everyone happy with their new living arrangements.
    Suzanne

  19. 4-18
    12:16
    pm

    in spite of all your wonderful photos I just wasn’t getting how it would all come together. until I saw the final photos. the pond looked like a small puddle, but that photo showing the goats jumping on the stile brings it all into focus. I can see that the pond is more that a puddle! good job Suzanne. whew. I’m happy that’s all over and now I can sit back and watch the show! :yes:

  20. 4-18
    12:26
    pm

    This just gives me goose-bumps! (x-cuse the pun!) I loved my ducks when I had them–long story, but someday I will post it. Anyhoo, I don’t think the purity of the water will be a problem. It sounds like the spring will keep it pure enuff. In fact, this is giving me ideas of my own duck and buck pond. M-m-m, Honey, did you read this? I was just wond’rin’… :duck: :duck:

    :duck:

  21. 4-18
    12:32
    pm

    Suzanne,
    Sorry for being so numerous, BUT, I am just curious about your guinea hen. Do you have just one, and does the noise bother you? I know they are supposed to really be a help in controlling ticks, but most cannot stand their mellifluous :? voices! It really bugs :ladybug: me that people don’t dare get any for their yards since ticks are such a nuisance now and guineas think they are a treat! :hungry:

  22. 4-18
    1:18
    pm

    I too wondered about the contamination thing. It looks like stagnant pond water. Does it have an outlet so the water can move?
    We always had a fresh water supply for our sheep and goats.
    I guess I’m just not used to seeing a farm in such a low lying swampy setting.

  23. 4-18
    2:16
    pm

    Oh, it’s fun to see the ducks partying! They sure look happy. And I’ll bet you have fun watching duck n’ buck TV.

    I would expect that the spring water feeding the pond would be about as pure as the well water.

  24. 4-18
    2:29
    pm

    Bev, it’s not a low lying swampy setting and the pond water is not stagnant. It’s spring-fed from springs on the hill above the pond and it drains off in a waterfall that goes down to the river.

    I think spring water is about as fresh as it gets.

  25. 4-18
    2:31
    pm

    Little Bear is what I call Sprite’s baby goat.

  26. 4-18
    3:09
    pm

    Another question from somone that knows nothing about this stuff lol – don’t any of the birds fly? Or don’t they try lol?

  27. 4-18
    3:17
    pm

    catslady, they can’t fly. Despite the fact that they have wings. The chickens can fly better than these ducks.

  28. 4-18
    3:31
    pm

    And by the way, our pond looks very brown right now because it’s been raining a lot. Same reason the river is brown and the creeks are brown….. It’s spring. It’s raining.

  29. 4-18
    4:36
    pm

    Wonderful idea Suzanne they all look so excited about it all, even the guinea is having a bit of a paddle. I have really enjoyed reading all about it comming together as well.

  30. 4-18
    5:24
    pm

    No worries about any frog eggs left in that pond. They became guinea/duck delicacy. ALL the animals look very happy. Maybe if you can get the girls into the box for a night or two, they will catch on as to where the eggs are ‘spose to be dropped off. Don’t know for sure!! I’ve never heard of having to ‘drag a pond for rolled in eggs’..(That’s some wicked slope)..but there’s always firsts.Good job guys!

  31. 4-18
    6:18
    pm

    Such great photos and a wonderful story. I laughed at the part where Princess wasn’t home, and you should have had more children. Cute! I know what you mean about taking a shower after handling the bucks. Been there, done that. Thanks for a good laugh. :wave:

  32. 4-18
    6:46
    pm

    I’ll have to call a meeting cracked me up.
    Everyone looks happy!

  33. 4-18
    8:12
    pm

    The ducks look so happy!! :duck:

  34. 4-19
    4:06
    am

    Susanne, I live where the soil is BLACK. Am I right in thinking your soil is more a red/rust color? While you clearly mentioned it’s fed by spring water, the soil color may have led people to think otherwise.

  35. 4-19
    6:14
    am

    bonita, yes, the dirt here is a reddish-brown color.

  36. 4-20
    3:08
    pm

    WooHoo!

  37. 4-21
    11:55
    pm

    LOL @photo #15. Those are some happy goats!

  38. 4-22
    4:00
    pm

    Looks like a great success! I think your idea of putting them together for protection is a fabulous one! Those ducks will be so much happier in there than they would be in the chicken pen!

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